1989 Tiananmen Square Protests: The Tank Man
The incident took place on June 5, 1989 near Tiananmen on Chang'an Avenue, which runs east-wes...
Having successfully brought the column to a halt, the man climbed onto the hull of the buttoned-up lead tank and, after briefly stopping at the driver's hatch, appeared in video footage of the incident to call into various ports in the tank's turret. He then climbed atop the turret and seemed to have a short conversation with a crew member at the gunner's hatch. After ending the conversation, the man descended from the tank. The tank commander briefly emerged from his hatch, and the tanks restarted their engines, ready to continue on. At that point, the man, who was still standing within a meter or two from the side of the lead tank, leapt in front of the vehicle once again and quickly reestablished the man–tank standoff.
Video footage shows that two figures in blue attire then pulled the man away and disappeared with him into a nearby crowd; the tanks continued on their way. Eyewitnesses disagree with each other about the identity of the people who pulled him aside. Charlie Cole (there for Newsweek) believes it was the PSB (Public Security Bureau) that pulled him away, while Jan Wong (there for The Globe and Mail) believes that the men who pulled him away were only concerned local civilians. In April 1998, Time included the "Unknown Rebel" in a feature titled Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century.