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The Tank Man (full film) | FRONTLINE

November 6, 2019


>>NARRATOR: Tiananmen
Square, Beijing, the largest public spacein the
world, created on an inhuman scale. The monumental public
buildingsthat line the edges and the vast, treeless spacesin
between speak of the insignificanceof
the individual before the might of the State. The atmosphere here is edgy. Even with permitsand government
minders, our filming is
constantlyinterrupted. Soldiers, policemen,men in
plain clothes all demand our papers. The authorities here are
afraidof cameras. They know their power. They have hundreds of
themtrained on Tiananmen Square; their cameras. Cameras in other hands
areconsidered dangerous, and with good reason. This place can be a powder keg. On a June night in
1989,Tiananmen Square was a war
zone. The People’s Liberation
Armyfought its way into Beijing from four directions with
ordersto converge on the square. Unarmed citizensand students
faced armored personnel carriers,tanks and soldiers armed
withsemi-automatic weapons. By 5:30 a.m. on June 4, 1989, the army’s mission had
beenaccomplished.>>Gradually the dawn came up. And Beijing, you know how
mistyit is, smoggy, this wasn’t a sunrise. This was like a
graynessgradually acquiring some sort of light. Where all this life had been was this quadrangle of
tanksfacing out. All the students were gone, and I just stood there and
Iwatched.>>NARRATOR: T.D. Allman
wasstaying at this Beijing
Hotel, which has a commanding view
ofChangan Avenue, the Avenue of Eternal Peace, that runs directly
intoTiananmen Square. On these balconies,
Westernreporters and
photographers had crouched– often
undergunfire– to record the
events of the night of June 3rd/4th. Then, at noon on the 5th, when the army seemedin complete
control, something remarkable happened
onChangan Avenue immediately below.>>The tanks danced. It was obscene, it was like
anobscene dance. They just didn’t roll out,
theyswiveled around. God knows why they did that. And then the moment came
whichhas intrigued you and fascinated and moved
theworld. You stand there and
you’relooking down, there’s tanks coming out. It’s got its gun up, and
thisman just went out and he said, “Stop.”>>It’s absolutelyextraordinary. You could look at him
asunusually brave, but he probably wasn’t. He was probably just an
ordinaryperson who was so
disgusted at what he had seen for the
lastfew days. And he said, “Right. That’s it. I’m going out and I’m just
goingto stand in front of that column.”>>The tank did not try to
justrun him over. It turned to go around him, and then the young man jumps
infront of the tank. And then the tank turns
theother way, and the young man jumps
theother side. They did this a couple of times, and then the tank turned offits
motor. And then it seemed to me that all the tanks turned
offtheir motors, because it was really quiet.>>Standing in front of a
columnof tanks, no one around
him. He was all on his own with
hisshopping bag in his hand. He climbed on top of the
tank,banged on the lid, said, “Get out of my city. You’re not wanted here.” We don’t know exactly what
hesaid, but it’s clear that’s what he wanted to say.>>And I started to cry,
becauseI had seen so much
shooting and so many people dying that
Iwas sure this man would get crushed. So I remember thinking I
can’tcry because I can’t see. I want to watch this.>>During this time,
I’mthinking, this guy is going to be killed any moment now. And if he is, I… it’s… I just can’t miss this. This is something that
he’sgiving his life for. It’s my responsibility to
recordit as accurately as
possible.>>And then after a while,the
young man jumps down, and the tank turnson the motor. And the young man blocks
himagain, and I thought, “He’s just going to getcrushed.”>>I realized that the
PublicSecurity Bureau had been watching us from
theother rooftop by binoculars. So I went in and took the
filmout of the camera and reloaded it into the
plasticfilm can and went into the toilet,
tookoff the top of the toilet and put it in the holding
tank,put the toilet top back on. And shortly after that,
probablyten, 15 minutes
afterwards, the Public Security Bureau
brokethrough the door. They got one other roll of
filmfrom the shots that I’d
taken from the night before, and
theywere pretty satisfied they’d cleaned upthe situation. About a day and a half later,I
worked my way back through the back streets to
theBeijing hotel. And luckily nobody had
flushedthe toilet.>>So one of the most
famousphotographs of the 20th
century was floating in the topof a
lavatory system?>>Floating in the topof the
toilet and possibly could have
beenliterally flushed, yeah.>>NARRATOR: Images of
thatextraordinary confrontation became icons of freedom. They have been reproduced
onT-shirts and posters ever
since. President Bush commended
hiscourage and leaders the world
overhailed him. He became an inspirationto
millions, and he changed lives forever.>>For all my years
conductinginvestigations into human rights abuses,I
never forgot this young man who stand in front of tanks. It’s not only me that
neverforgot; the world did not forget him.>>I spent, you know, years
inthe labor camp. I confronted the regime also
inthe labor camp. That image actually played a
keyrole to me.>>He wanted to change
China,but what he did was help to changethe Soviet
Union. I went to a number of
countriesin Eastern Europe before the Berlin Wall camedown, and I was complimentingtheir
courage. And they said, “If that kid
inChina stood in front of those tanks, we can do
whatwe are doing.” What this young man did was,
ineffect, change the world.>>NARRATOR: Within minutes
ofhis incredible act of
defiance, Tank Man was hustled away,by
whom we do not know, and vanished. And still we have no idea of
hisfate or who he was. But to some, it appears he
wasnot a student; more likely an ordinaryworking
man.>>He didn’t look at alllike a
student. He looked like someone on
hisway to work or who’d just knocked off
andwas on his way home, doing the shoppingon the way
home. In a sense, he stoodfor the
ordinary people.>>NARRATOR: The proteststhat
climaxed with the Tank Man’s lonely
actof defiance had begun five weeks earlier with a mass
studentdemonstration, and in most Western
mediacontinued to be treated as a student phenomenon. But there’s much moreto this
story. The students had toucheda nerve, and soon everyone seemed to
beout there protesting against
hardship,government corruption and 40 years of repression. In Tiananmen Square and on
thestreets of Beijing, in cities right across China, there were tens of millions
ofTank Men. Whole swathes of the
countrywere in open revolt.>>In Beijing, one in ten of
thepopulation was joining in, and that includes all the
oldpeople, all the little
children. So it was massive.>>There were people in
heavyearth moving equipment. Honey bucket collectors and
atank truck came in. There were the pilots. There were hotel workers.>>It was just a carnivalof
protest. All the groups were out
therewith their own banners
saying, “We are the Beijing journalists. “We demand press freedom. We demand the right to tellthe
truth.”>>You had doctors and
nursesand scientists and army people demonstrating. The Chinese Navy
wasdemonstrating, and I thought, “This is extraordinary
becausewho’s left?” It’s just the top leaders
whoaren’t out there.>>People thought that the
oldregime was somehow about to fall. And indeed it was hardto imagine how it could be otherwiseat
that moment.>>NARRATOR: For the veryfirst
time, press and television
werereporting freely and
truthfully. The virus of freedomquickly
spread.>>You could feel
somethinguncontrollable
building, and of course, from there
itmoved outward across the country.>>Uprisings occurred all
overChina in at least 400
cities. We know thisfrom the Chinese
press and from their own
militarymuseum, all the way from Mongoliain the
northwest down to the southeastnear Hong
Kong.>>NARRATOR: And from
thesecities, hundreds of
thousands of supporters converged on
thecapital. The students had startedthe
protest hoping to cleanse the Party
ofgraft and corruption, and encourage free speech. They sought reform,not
revolution. After all, they were,by and
large, the children of the elite. But as the movement
spreadoutwards to the middle
classes, and then to the workers
andpeasants, attitudes hardened.>>The move from
studentuprising to a worker
uprising is what really scared
theChinese government. They felt that they could
dealwith the students. After all, students had
beeninvolved in uprisings for many, many years. But where it became dangerousto
the stability and to the survivalof the
Communist Party was when ordinary workers
becameinvolved.>>(translated): After all,
theChinese Communist Party had originally used the
workersmovement to gain power for itself. Now those in government
wereterrified that we’d take it backfrom them.>>NARRATOR: In fact,
thegovernment was paralyzed by infighting between those
whoadvocated peaceful
negotiation and hard-liners who demandeda
crackdown. On May the 19th, Zhou
Ziyang,the reformist General
Secretary of the Communist Party,
suddenlyappeared in Tiananmen
Square to appeal for compromise. It would be his last
publicappearance. That night, before an
audienceof Party faithful, hard-line Premier Li Peng
showedthe way forward. “We must end the
situationimmediately. “Otherwise the future ofthe
People’s Republic will be in grave danger.” He completed his address with
adeclaration of martial law. Troops would occupy the city
andput an end to the protests in Tiananmen Square. Never before in the
40-yearhistory of Communist rule had China put its citizens
andits army in this situation.>>It was a massive displayof
force. 300,000 troops by most
counts,countless tanks, APCs,
the lot, all converging on the cityfrom
every quarter.>>NARRATOR: Beijing’s
responsecame as a complete
surprise, both to the armyand to the
government.>>The people just flooded
outand physically, with their sheer numbers,
simplyblocked the road.>>Flood tactics. You know, flooding them
withpeople, so they couldn’t
move. The army at that point
wasn’twilling to run over people and shoot people, to
theircredit.>>The scene that greeted
myeyes was just unbelievable. I could see for about a milein
the distance. Endless serried ranksof
transport trucks completely surrounded by tensof
thousands of people. Young women, middle
agedhousewives, elderly retired workers
said,”You’re not coming in. “Sorry, this is our city. “There’s no chaos. Leave us alone.”>>So there are three or
fourmajor military convoys in the suburbs of Beijing
thatcan’t go forward to Tiananmen Square. They also can’t withdraw. They had them fixed there
andimposed on them 24-, 48-hour street seminar
toexplain to them why they shouldn’t be doing
whatthey’re doing.>>(shouting in Chinese)>>And I witnessed a motherwith
an infant talk face-to-face with
thesoldiers in the truck, telling him it was a
verypeaceful city and that what we didwas to just
ask for more freedom for the people.>>So you had these
wonderfullytouching moments of
the people appealing to the army to
jointhem, and feeding them and giving them water,and
saying, you know, “Could be your son,could be
your daughter.”>>(translated): The
citizenswere also quite clever. They brought their children
andasked them to say to the soldiers, “How are
you,uncle soldier?” The soldiers were touchedand
they said, “We won’t kill our people.”>>And these sort of
doe-eyed,puzzled soldiers, who
were mostly country people,
weren’texperienced with
big-city life, wondering what wasgoing on here and not wanting to hurt anybody.>>NARRATOR: Four days afterthe
attempted entry, the army withdrew to
basesoutside the city. Beijing was euphoric.>>So that ended very well,and
was a great triumph. But it also was an
enormoushumiliation for the
leadership. They had been thwarted and
theyhad lost face, and they weren’t going to let
ithappen again.>>The party elders feared
thatthe whole edifice of
communism was going to collapse, like it was collapsing in
theSoviet Union and in other partsof Eastern
Europe. They needed to make a stand,and
a bloody stand, to show their population, and in effect to cow
theirpopulation back into
submission.>>NARRATOR: Over the nextten
days, Supreme Leader Deng
Xiaopinghatched a new plan. Troops armed with
semi-automaticweapons and
backed by tanks were drawn from
militarydistricts across China.>>On the night of June 3,a
huge invasion force, coming in again from
alldirections, but mostly from the west,
thistime with live ammunition, this time strict orders: the square must be cleared
bydawn on June 4.>>The instructions to
thetroops said, “We don’t want bloodshed. Avoid bloodshed.” But the other instruction to
thetroop, which was ironclad, was the square has to be
clearedby 6:00 a.m. No bloodshed on the one hand, have to clear the squareon the
other. “Here’s your tanks. Here’s your ammunition.” And so I think the soldiers
werecaught in a dilemma.>>NARRATOR: To block the
army’sadvance, the citizens
barricaded all the main road bridges
andintersections with buses, trucks, heavy
earth-movingequipment, anything they could laytheir
hands on. Muxidi Bridge. In 1989, all traffic
enteringthe city from the west had to cross here. The nearby exit rampdidn’t
exist. But the apartments were here– homes to senior
governmentbureaucrats who would
have a ringside view of a
massacrethat began in the early evening of June 3, as the crowds manning
thebarricades on Muxidi Bridge hurled rocks and abuseat the
advancing army.>>Armored personnel
carrierscame and they began to
ram the buses. Somebody threw some type
ofgasoline soaked rug into the buses, and the
busesilluminated with fire. Then, some time after 9:30,
youhad more soldiers out there and live fire began.>>The first rounds of
firecatch everybody by surprise. The people in the streets
don’texpect this to happen.>>They shot, you know,
randomlytowards all sorts of
directions. Two people, one meter in
frontof me were shot down.>>(translated): Angry
citizenswere everywhere. People just couldn’t
understandwhy this country and
its army, the People’s Army,
wouldslaughter its own people– the Beijing citizens.>>People still pourinto the
streets. This is the amazing thing. People were just so angry,
sofurious at what was happening in their city that they were
notgoing to step back and let the army dowhat it was
doing.>>(translated): A young
friendstanding next to me
shouted: “Overthrow fascism!” Then the soldiers
startedshooting at us. We immediately threw
ourselvesto the ground.>>The group of people I
waswith, they were Chinese
people, began… began to run. I basically hit the dirt
andsnuggled up against a curb while the shooting washappening. I could see peoplebehind me
falling.>>Troops began to fire in
alldifferent directions. Many people– children,
women,ordinary people– were
shot standing on their
balconieslooking down at this
spectacle.>>They just raked the
buildingswith their gunfire and they were shooting people. People were being killed
on…in their own kitchens.>>Everybody was frightened
bythis overwhelming use of
force.>>What was amazing was that
thearmy used battlefield
weapons. These bullets are the sizeof a
man’s thumb, and they’re encasedwith this
copper, sort of soft outer coating
thatwhen it’s fired it unfurls and it twists. They’re like dumdums, I guess, they twist so when they
gothrough the victim, they tear up the victim inside.>>It’s the kind of
ammunitionan army wants in the
field because it creates… it
createsmuch damage and incapacitatesthe other side because of the medical burden of dealing with this kindof
casualty. It’s not the sort of thingthat
should be used in an urban setting.>>(translated): Right in
frontus, this tall young man, about 20 years old,
suddenlyfell down. He’d been shot in the chest. Blood was pouring out. We were absolutely shocked. We didn’t know how to stopthe
bleeding. Someone found a bicycle to
carryhim to the hospital.>>You had doctors outside involved in
mouth-to-mouthresuscitation with red faces from, you
know,stained from blood.>>(translated): We saw
morethan 30 bodies lying on the ground in front
ofthe hospital. All the doctors were in a
stateof shock, completely lost.>>I visited three
hospitals,very close to the
Muxidi area, and we were in total
shockbecause of the large
numbers of people, wounded,
beingbrought to these
facilities, most of them being broughton
bicycle-pulled carts, and all around us we could
heargunfire.>>We went into the
hospitalthrough the back
entrance where the staff goes. There was a smell. My friend said,”Do you smell
that?” And I said, “I smellsomething
sweet.” And she said, “That’s death. That’s what you’re smelling.”>>People started to screamat
us… (speaking Chinese) “Take pictures, take video. “Tell the world what’s going on. They’re killing innocentpeople.”>>NARRATOR: Changan Avenue
cutsright across the city and was the main routeof the
army’s advance from the east and the west. On the night of June 3,it was
barricaded and defended at every major intersection.>>(translated): From Muxidiall
along Changan Avenue, it was like a war zone. The debris of battle, the
smokewas everywhere.>>Every time a blockade
wasknocked down going east from Muxidi, another one
wouldbe set up at the next major intersection. So the army had to plow its
waythrough a series of
blockades. Sometimes it’s breaking
throughbuses and trucks that have been strewn acrossthe
street, in other cases it’s
breakingthough human barriers and they have to be shot.>>Basically there was
aone-sided pitched battle all the way from the
westernsuburbs until they finally,
severalhours later, about 1:30
a.m., began to arrive at
TiananmenSquare, which was
Ground Zero. This was the crunch time. We knew the troops had ordersto
clear the square by dawn. That was the deadline.>>We heard this roarof male
yelling and saw on the steps of
theMuseum of Revolutionary
History and then across the way on the steps of the Great
Hallof the People, thousands of soldiers, just
sawthe glint of their weaponry. It was clear to everyonefrom
that point on we were absolutely trapped. You had the military coming
infrom the west with their
tanks. We knew there were tanks coming from the southup Tiananmen Gate, and now on both sides of
thesquare you had hundreds, if not thousands, of soldiers.>>NARRATOR: And thenthe firing
started. Even at this late stage,
manycouldn’t believe the army was using live ammunition,
andthey stood their ground.>>And you’d just hear
thisthunderous sound of gunfire. All the gunfire kept going. You could see tracer
bulletsthrough the sky. There was a battle going on,
andthere were all these
civilians, and they were the targets.>>(translated): One man
wasshot down. Someone ran up and draggedthat
man. I didn’t. I just kept running. On my left side, someone was
hitin the neck. Everyone was running.>>There was a lot of shooting. A lot of young people
wererunning towards the
military, being shot, falling,and then
running away.>>People were runningto the
square and they were runningfrom the
square, and people were racingto the
square on bikes, racing out of the squareon
bikes, the ambulances startedto go in.>>There was a lot of smoke. The lights were on in the
squareand there was this continual announcement of “Under the martial
lawregulations “no one should be on the street. “If you stay on the street
youwill be responsible for what happens to you,”
thissort of continual bass beat, sort of… of that evening
wasthat… these announcements.>>About 4:15 in the morning, suddenly all the lights in
thesquare went out. Pitch dark. This was very frightening.>>And then I heard
thesehorrible crushing sounds like when tanks run over
things,crushing, splinter
sounds.>>After about ten minutes,the
lights came on again. But not the normal lights inthe
square; they stayed off. Instead they put on the
specialdisplay lights that lit up the Great Hallof
the People. It was like this
G3tterdammerungeffect of this
vast, cavernous Great Hall of
thePeople lit up by floodlights, smoke rising all around. And at that point we could
seejust a river of troops flowing out of the Great Hall
ofthe People onto the steps and deploying in front of
theMonument to the People’s
Heroes.>>NARRATOR: The students
hadmade their last stand at the monument. They had witnessed the
shootingand killing as the army swept through
thesquare towards them, and many expected the
sametreatment themselves. But they were wrong. The soldiers held their fire, and the students were
offeredamnesty if they vacatedthe square at
once.>>Should we stay or should
wego was put to a voice vote among the students there. It was clear to me that the
stayvotes were much, much, much stronger. But Feng Congde, who was
astudent leader at the time, said “The go’s have it.”>>(translated): From my
pointof view, the important thing was to
avoidmore injury and death. So I made the decision to
leadthe students out of the
square. 3,000 to 5,000 students
andcitizens left the square by the southeast corner.>>(translated): All
thestudents held hands and started singingthe
“Internationale,” and soothed each other with
thebelief that one day we would be back.>>I’ll never forget
thosefaces, the young people’s
faces. They were walking out with
theirheads held high. They’d finessed their
retreatfrom the square so well. They’d performed so bravely, and finally they’d madethe
right decision. There would have been no
pointin staying there. Everybody wouldhave been killed. Reports in the weekafter June 4
stated that troops had assaultedthe
monument and massacred all the
studentson the monument. Thousands of students had
beenshot down in cold blood. That didn’t happen,and had it
happened, I wouldn’t be here today,simple
as that. The theater of the massacre
was,by and large, elsewhere. It was the rest of the city, and that was where the
Beijingcitizens fought and died.>>Later that morning,
amazingthings started to happen. People astonishingly
startedtrying, holding hands, walking up the avenue,trying to
reenter the square in the face of these tanks.>>These people were frantic. They were nuts,out of their
minds. And the reason they wereout of
their minds is that these were the
parentsof students who had been in the square that night. These parents were running
backand forth and they were
saying, “Want to go in the
square,looking for our
children.” And an officer came out witha
loud hailer and he said, “I’m going to count to five,and
then we’re going to fire.”>>Then all the people
realizedthat the guns were
pointed at them, and they’d go
runningpast the hotel and then the soldiers would
firein their backs. I felt like I was watchingsome
terrible opera.>>And a lot of peoplewent down. 30, 40, 50 peopleare knocked
down. Everybody else ran away. I’m lying in the grass
thinkingthis is the worst thing
ever. This is hell.>>But the odd thing was
thatafter a little while, like 40 minutes, an hour,
peoplewould gather their nerve
again and crawl back to the corner
andstart screaming at the
soldiers. And then the commander
wouldeventually give another
signal and the soldiers would
raisetheir rifles again. And the people go, “Oh, my god.” And they would run away
andthey’d shoot more in the
backs. And this went on more than
halfa dozen times in the day. It was, to me, unbelievable.>>There then suddenly
appeared,right there an
ambulance, and they rush in amongst all
thepeople who were on the
ground, and the soldiers open fire
againand mow them down.>>The soldiers shot
everybody–doctors, nurses,
rescuers. Everybody was being shot at.>>This was seen by numbersof
journalists who will never forget it. This was… this wasa real
massacre. This was the targetingand the
shooting down of totally nonviolent
innocentcivilians.>>The tactics of
overwhelmingforce that were used had a point. They were meant to
shock,terrify and awe. And they did. Terror works.>>NARRATOR: No one knows
forcertain how many people died. The Chinese Red Cross
initiallyreported 2,600 and immediately retracted
underintense government
pressure. The official figure is 241
dead,including 23 officers and soldiers,and 7,000 wounded. All we can be sure of is that
bythe third day, June 5, the army was in completecontrol. Beijing seemed
utterlyvanquished, until an unknown young manmade
his astounding gesture of defiance.>>The symbolism of what he
didwas overwhelmingly clear. He spoke for the Beijing people. Before June 4, you had
millionsof people all over China in the cities up in the
streetspeacefully demanding more rights, freedom,
democracy,press freedom, end to corruption. After June 4, what did you have? You had one man, one
sacrificialfigure, almost, who took it on himself to
speakfor everyone else who had been silencedby that
time.>>NARRATOR: But what
happenedto that young man? The only clue comes in the
lastfew seconds when he was hustled awayby four
men. Their identity is key. But those who witnessedthat
moment had very different impressions.>>We don’t know who
thosepeople were, and you know, maybe they saved him. Things like that happened
allover Beijing in those days. People were wounded,
peoplewould pick them up and take them to the streets. People would take peopleinto
their homes.>>I feel very strongly that it was Public
SecurityBureau people that got
him. They were on the rooftops
withbinoculars and
walkie-talkies, and they were controlling
theouter areas of the square as you would control
anymilitary operation, the high ground. It seemed like they had
snatchteams of people they were conducting down below. Even if it wasn’t PSB,I
seriously doubt he could have gotten pastthe
net of security.>>Well, if it was the PSB
whotook him to one side, what would have been his fate?>>Well, I felt pretty
stronglythat he was executed. We saw a lot of
publicexecutions put on Chinese
TV shortly after that, and it
wasfor people that had done far less offenses than
embarrassthe government in such
a way.>>NARRATOR: In the aftermathof
the Beijing massacre, tens of thousands all acrossthe
country were arrested. Unknown numbers were
executed;some are still in
prison today. China television portrayedthese
people as
counter-revolutionaries,hooliga
ns and agents of foreign powers. But they never produced
theyoung protester who had
become the most powerful symbol
ofresistance to the regime. Could that possibly bea cause
for hope?>>I don’t think they had him
orthey would have, at that
stage, displayed him. I think that the people who
tookthe Tank Man away were concerned people. If you’ve ever seen
securitypeople manhandle a Chinese citizen,
they’rereally brutal. They twist your arm. They make you bend over. They punch you a few times. They kick you. So, to me, I think he was
helpedto the side of the road. He wasn’t being arrested.>>Now that raises
theintriguing possibility that he’s still alive.>>I think that he is. The fact that we have not
heardfrom him since that amazing
incidenttells me he is still
alive; he’s still there. He has not been caught, and he’s certainly not
tellinganybody that he’s the
man.>>NARRATOR: If Tank Man
hassurvived, where is he now? Since the day he madehis heroic
stand, his country has changedbeyond
recognition. Old economic dogmaswere cast
aside. To attract foreign
capital,China’s leaders created special economic zones
andremoved many restrictions on foreign ownershipand
investment. The results were dramatic. 15 years ago, this
entireskyline didn’t exist. Just paddy fields. China’s rise is the story of
the21st century, and it is
rooted in the events of 1989.>>This was Deng
Xiaoping’sgreat moment of
genius. After the massacre of 1989,he
in effect said, “We will not stop
economicreform. We will, in effect,halt
political reform.” What he basically said to
peoplewas, “Folks, you’re in a
room. “There are two doors. “One door says ‘politics,’one
door says ‘economics.’ “You open the economic
door,you’re on your own. “You can go the full
distance,do basically whatever
you want, “get wealthy, help your
family,have a bright future, “move forward into a
gloriousfuture. “If you open the political
door,you’re going to run “right into one
obstructionafter another, and you’re going to runinto the
State.”>>There was a point to that. This was meant to buythe
Communist Party a new lease on life. On the one hand,
intimidateopposition for a
generation; on the other hand, give
thepeople bread and circuses. And the deal is there must be
nochallenge to one-party rule. That’s the termsof today’s
China. That’s the deal.>>NARRATOR: And for those
whorose against the regime in
1989, principally the city people,the
deal has paid off. After decades of austerity,they
have access to everything money can buy. No dream seems
unattainablehere, no expense
too daunting. And the speed of the changeis
breathtaking. The high-speed train
fromShanghai airport to the city uses a technology developedin
Germany, but considered far too
expensiveto be practical. But it stands as an
importantsymbol of China’s
aspirations, no matter if the trainis often
empty. Underpinning these
visionaryprojects is an economy hurtling forward at a
staggeringrate of 9% a year, as China draws in hundredsof
billions of dollars of foreign investment. Whole production lineshave been
moved out of the United Statesand
Europe and set up here, turning China into a factoryfor
the world. Thousands of the most
familiarWestern brands– toys, textiles,
electronicgoods– are now made
in China. We do the researchand marketing, they actually make the stuff. China has overtakenthe United
States as the world’s largest
consumerof coal, steel, meat
and grain. Within the past five years,its
oil demand has doubled. It is the world’s
second-largestcar market, and in a decade could bethe
world’s largest.>>It is an amazing miracle
whathas happened since 1989, and anyone, such as myself, standing there during
thoseweeks couldn’t have
imagined in their wildest
imaginationthat come 2006,
China would be where it is today and the
Partywould still be enthroned.>>NARRATOR: Never in the
courseof human history has a larger number of
peoplegained more wealth in such a short time. Since 1989, China has seen
theemergence of a new middle
class, estimated at over200 million
people.>>And the improvements
havebeen extraordinary, have been massive. So I think a lot of people
havebeen willing to accept this deal with the devil,to say, “All right, things went
verybadly in 1989, “but in a sense, we have
beenrewarded “by not asking the governmentto
return to that event and account for the way inwhich
it conducted itself.”>>That social contract, if
youwill, up to this point, has worked quite wellfor the
Communist Party and for the elite and now
thenew middle class of China.>>NARRATOR: But what aboutthe
ordinary men and women on the factory floor,
thosewhose labor keeps this
economy on the fast track? If Tank Man were really
aworker, where would he be in this new China? Maybe here, if he’s lucky. In one of the huge jointventures with Western
corporations,enticed into the
China market by generous tax concessions,a
disciplined work force and a potential marketof 1.3
billion consumers. The average pay here
isequivalent to $600 a month; meager by Western standards, serious money for an
ordinaryworker in China. Others are less fortunate. When the old
state-ownedindustries were
brought to their knees, 30
millionpeople lost their jobs and had to find their place in the new competitivemarket
economy. This state-owned steel workswas
saved. It had to be. It was the only real employerin
a one-industry town. Under new management, output
hasincreased five-fold, but 40,000 workers have
losttheir jobs. The company school, the
companyhospital, the company
nursery all closed down. If Tank Man had workedfor a
state-owned industry, where might he be now? Seizing his opportunitiesin the
new China or struggling to survive?>>There really seem to betwo
Chinas today– China A and China B. China A is big cities where businessmen and
foreigngovernments go– Beijing, Guangdong,
Shanghai,Shenzhen, modern and confrontinga lot of
the problems that developed countriesare
facing– problems of urbanization,too
many cars, the rise of criminalization,
theeducation and health systems, the judicial system. These are problemsfor a
developed, rich or getting richer, country. And then you have China B,
theundeveloped or developing
China, which is the vast majorityof
the country. This China is still very
poor,not getting better because all the economic
growthis concentrated in the
cities. They face problems that
arereally problems for developing countries–
verylow education, not enough
water, not enough economic
resources,not enough
infrastructure. It’s a profoundlyunequal system, and it’s a system
whosecontradictions we see
every day are playing out more and more.>>NARRATOR: We are in
AnhuiProvince, 300 miles and several centuriesfrom
Shanghai. It’s a dizzying descent fromthe
skyscrapers and freeways, the glittering boutiques
andfuturistic train to this. And yet, there have beenchanges
here, real changes for the better. Under the old collective system, peasants were virtually
slavesof the State. Now they own, or rather
lease,their plots and are free
to sell their produce on the openmarket. As a result of these
reforms,rural incomes doubled within a decade. But the trouble is that whatthe
State gave with one hand, it has taken awaywith the other.>>Education and health care, which are the two mainbenchmarks for the advancement and
progressof a society at large, have totally collapsedin the
past 20 years. Education used to be freeand
accessible for every child in China. But now there is notone kid in
China that doesn’t have to payto go
to school. Not only the school fees,
butthe book fees, the heating
fees, an array of fees.>>Children of farmersin rural
areas just can’t go to school
nowbecause they can’t afford it. You have to pay and they
can’tafford to pay health care. Something like less than a
pennyin American money per year in the rural areas is spenton
health care. It’s virtually gone. It’s just not there. So if you get sick, you depend on local
herbalremedies and folklore or
die.>>It really begs the question, what is in the mindof the
Chinese leaders? Is it to make China a richand
powerful country on the international scene, or is it to try to bringinto
the 21st century the entire Chinese population?>>NARRATOR: There are almosta
billion people in China B, including at least 750
millionpeasant farmers and their families. What’s so striking here is
notjust the sense of
timelessness, but the absence of young adults. Zhang Mei has three sons
whohave all left to work in the industrial areas. She sees them once a yearif
she’s lucky. This little boy is a grandson. Quin Tang also has three
sonsand a daughter working hundreds of miles away.>>(translated): You just
can’tmake a living from farming here. You have to go awayand find
work.>>NARRATOR: In recent surveys, the number-one reason
migrantsgive for leaving their
homes and families is to pay for
theeducation of their children. In March 2006, the
governmentpromised to work to remedy the situation
byinjecting a further $5 billion into the rural economyover the
next 12 months. That’s almost seven dollarsa
head, probably not enough to turn back the human tide. Everywhere you look in
China,peasants on the move. Flow and counter-flow
ofhundreds of millions of people willing to accept
workingconditions and wages that give this economy
itscompetitive edge. It is the largest migrationin
history and the basis of
China’sindustrial strength. 40,000 migrants work herein
Sanxingchen, a new industrial center that
hasgrown from a village in less than ten years. The trend now isfor
specialization, one city per product. So China has a sock city,a
toothbrush city, an underwear city, and here in Sanxingchen,
abedding city making comforters, pillows and sheetsfor the world. The Sanxingchen employers
arebeneficiaries of the post-Tiananmen deal. Some at the top end
haveexploited Party connections; others have risen fromthe
humblest backgrounds and now own a
back-streetworkshop or two. What they all sharein the
bedding business is a preference for young
femaleworkers.>>Factory employers liketo
hire young people because they are more energetic. They are fresh,they can work
faster. That’s why whenthey recruit
workers, they look at their health. This is very important, to
makesure they are strong and
fit. You don’t want to hiresickly
workers. A lot of factories do not
evenhave one day off. That means seven days a week,13
hours a day.>>NARRATOR: Typical pay
formigrants working these hours: about $120 a month.>>They work them like this
formaybe five, six or seven
years, and then either they get
sick,they get tired and they leave on their own, or the factory management
willfire them if they are not up to the speed.>>NARRATOR: Life for mostof
these workers is confined to the factory floor and
adormitory in a migrant’s
hostel. Sanxingchen is encircledwith
hostels, some of them squalid,others
indescribable. We were allowed to film at
themodern Jiangsu Dadao factory. Here top-quality bed linen
iswoven for clients from Russia and the Far Eastto the United
States, and the girls who make the
stuffsleep 12 to a room. Three of the brightest
weretaken off the factory floor and were ready and waitingfor
our interview. Qiju, aged 20,is from Anhui
Province, where we had just come from. Quiju spoke glowingly of her
jobat this new modern factory. But were these her realfeelings? Impossible to know with
allinterviews monitored by government minders.>>(translated): We’re
paidregularly. We never have to workafter 9:00
p.m., and the food is much better than anywhere I’ve workedbefore.>>NARRATOR: In spite of
theheavy presence in the wings, the girls gradually opened
upand gave us a glimpse into their real lives. Jinli is from Jiangxi
Province,500 miles to the south.>>(translated): I’m
workinghere to help my family. Where I come from,all we have
is farming.>>NARRATOR: Hongyan is
theveteran of the group, at 22.>>(translated): I send allthe
money I earn back home to pay the school fees for
mybrother and sister. But what I earnis still not
enough. Maybe I’d earn morein another
country.>>NARRATOR: And then
Qijuopened up.>>(translated): I just wishthe
pay here was better, that the factory would
bedeveloped and improved. But at least it’s better
thanthe last place I worked in. When they were busy, we had
towork on right through the
night. Some of my friends just
couldn’tkeep going and fell
asleep right there in frontof the
machines.>>(translated): The
problemsthat workers face in
China are not just low payor long
hours. Workers have no basic rights. They don’t even have the
rightto negotiate with
management.>>NARRATOR: Now exiled,Han
Dongfan broadcasts a regular phone-in programto
mainland China. Today, he’s talking to
workerswho make sofas for a European company.>>(translated): When
theworkers recently protested a 20% wage cut, their
leaderswere beaten up. Now some of them are
sufferingsevere health problems. We think it’s a glue sprayedin
the production process.>>NARRATOR: The
Chineseauthorities have tried
to jam these broadcasts. Han is considered an enemyof
the State. In 1989, he was elected to
leadan independent trades union that set up headquartersin
Tiananmen Square. When his face appeared on the
TVwanted lists broadcast across China, he says he simply walkedinto a
police station and said, “Here I am and I’ve donenothing
wrong.” Brutalized, kept in solitary
andthen forced to share a tiny
cell with prisoners sufferingfrom
infectious diseases, Han nearly died.>>(translated): Workers
inChina are cheated, deceived, not fully informed, and
theyhave no rights. All workers are facing the
samesituation, whether they are working in privately
ownedcompanies, foreign
companies or reformed
state-ownedindustries. No statutory pension,no
compensation for injury, no sick pay. And because of the long
hours,accidents can happen at any time– loss of
fingers,even limbs. Another issue is the
conditionin which they work– handling toxic
materials,breathing in toxic
dust without any protection.>>These are the peoplewho are
the losers in China’s economic growth. And the population of themare
vast and they don’t have a voice. They don’t have any wayto
address them. They don’t have a
socialmechanism to sort of
advocate on their behalf. They don’t have a
governmentever listen to them
at all.>>NARRATOR: Migrant
workersarriving at the site of the main stadium forthe 2008
Beijing Olympics. It’s highly unlikely,
though,that any of them will be
around to watch the games. Migrant workers are subjectto
strict residency laws– necessary prevention,in the
government’s view, against mass migration andthe
creation of urban slums. To remain here legally,migrants
must live without their dependentsin
single-sex hostels. When the job is done, they
mustfind another or move on.>>This system explain how
Chinahas been able to
concentrate so much wealth and
developmentin the cities– all these glittering
buildingsthat you see
everywhere, all this prosperity, orderand
cleanliness– because it has denied the
verypeople who built this any enjoyment of the benefitsof
the cities. So they will come,
contributetheir work, get paid very menial,very
minimal wages. But then they will have to
leaveor try to lie low in the
city, because they are not entitledto
residency.>>NARRATOR: Although there
isno evidence of abuse on the Olympic sites, for construction
workerselsewhere in China, it’s a very different story.>>They go to a siteand they
work and work and they’re not paid at all. They are given food because
youneed to eat before you can
work. You know, it’s hard labor. But they are not paid. The… the arrangement is
thatyou will be paid at the end of the year.>>NARRATOR: Anita Chan has
beenresearching working
conditions inside China for 15 years.>>And if at the end of
theyear, either the boss, the construction company,or the
gang boss default on you, that means you are not paid. And that is so common. There have been cases
ofconstruction workers trying to commit suicide,trying to
draw attention by going up to someconstruction
sites and threatening to
throwthemselves down. A lot of these
constructionworkers are working for the state sector
buildinggovernment buildings, and in the end, it’s the
workerswho are, at the end, at the bottom of the…
youknow, of the heap and so they are not paid.>>China’s paradox now is
that,you know, a larger quotient of people than at any time
inthe last 50 years has… have moved forward and
areeconomically better off. But there’s a huge number
whichhave really stagnated.>>What you see in China is
thispool of resentment, this growing pool of
resentmentfrom the Chinese
underclass that is progressively
spreadingover China.>>There’s a huge amountof
tension. It’s like a land of a
thousandearthquake faults. And one of these faults
isbetween the rich and the poor, between peasants and the Party, between corrupt officialsand
the people.>>(people shouting)>>Time is running out; the level of unrest in Chinais
rising.>>(people shouting)>>At the end of last year,the
Public Security Ministry declared the numberof
demonstrations was 74,000 nationwide,but a
year before was 50,000, and this number is increasing.>>(people shouting)>>NARRATOR: The figure for
2005has risen further to 87,000 incidents. All over China,the pressure is
building. Here, peasants defendingtheir
land from takeover by a power company are
beaten,stabbed and shot by
hired thugs. One incident in Juneof last year that happened to be recordedby
a villager who was able to smuggle his
tapeout of the country. One incident in June 1989that
happened to take place under the very nosesof Western
cameramen. The challenge of powerful
imagesfor an authoritarian state is enormous. How do you stop one
person’sexample becoming an
inspiration to others? How do you prevent the firefrom
spreading? Beida, the University of
Beijingand the most prestigious in all of China. In 1989, Beida was the
nervecenter of the student
movement that would inspirea popular
uprising. Today’s undergraduates enjoy
allthe benefits that have flowed into China A. Largely the childrenof the
elite, they enjoy freedom of travel and a lifestyle many
Westernundergraduates might
envy. But what do they knowof their
recent history? I’m going to try a
littleexperiment. Show this picture around and tell me what that
picturesays to you. Pass them around.>>NARRATOR: They were baffled. After a long silence,one of
them whispered.>>Looks like some
militaryceremony.>>NARRATOR: The boywhispered
back.>>’89.>>NARRATOR: But the girlmade
no connection.>>Umm.>>Does it have any meaningat
all?>>(translated): Well, I can
seefour vehicles. I’m not sure about the context. It might be a paradeor
something. I really don’t know. I’m just guessing.>>(translated): I really
can’ttell anything from this
picture. There’s no context.>>(translated): Is this a
pieceof artwork? Did you make this up?>>NARRATOR: Whatever they
mighthave heard about 1989, it was clear that they had
neverseen the Tank Man picture.>>I think it’s terribly tragic that Beijing
Universitystudents– who were at the forefront of
theMay ’89 democracy movement– several generationsof students
later have no conception of
whathappened, don’t even know that this incident of the manin
front of the tanks ever happened.>>NARRATOR: Tragic, indeed,but
not surprising. The image was shown once in
1989on China Television, re-branded as an exampleof the
army’s restraint.>>NARRATOR: But the picture
wasquickly withdrawn and never shown again. No one under 20 in China
islikely to have seen it.>>One way that the
Chinesegovernment has managed to control the dialogue andthe
discussion of the past is by controlling the mediaand
publishing, and that it’s done
quiteeffectively. And it’s no accidentthat this
is an area that they are least willingto
relent and to compromise in as these other rather
amazingreforms go forward in the country. (car horns honking)>>NARRATOR: Any
regimeattempting to combine economic freedom with
rigidone-party rule is faced with a challenge. How do you allow inall the
information necessary to keep a free-market
economyrunning while filtering out
anythingthat contradicts the
Party line and undermines its authority? Press censorship is one thing, but China already has
111million Internet users, monitored by at least
30,000Internet police. For more sophisticated controls, China relieson Western
technology. When we in the West searchfor
images of Tiananmen Square on Google, photos of Tank
Manpop up immediately. Move through the selection of18
pages and Tank Man appears again and again. When people in China makethe
same entry on their Google search
engine,they get just three
pages, featuring maps,
architecture,cooking hints, and smiling tourists posingin
the square. But not one single imageof the
Tank Man.>>All the major I.T.
companiesin the West have not only embracedthe
Chinese market, they have bent over backwards
toplease the Chinese government. They have proposed to
tailortheir information system
to fit the political censorship needs. Yahoo has very early on signeda
self-censorship pledge. Google and others have followed.>>These companies
areabsolutely capable, either of caving into the
Chinese or, worse, in the case of Yahoo and
Cisco–just to take those two– of providing them with
thetechnology to identify people and messages that the
Chinesedon’t like. And we already know that
atleast one person, a person called Shi Tao,
hasbeen arrested in China because of this.>>NARRATOR: Shi Tao wasa
journalist. His crime: forwardingto a New
York website Chinese Government instructions on how their media should
coverthe 16th anniversary of the Beijing massacre.>>(translated): Yahoo
suppliedall the necessary
information to the Chinese government, including the time the
e-mailwas sent, the I.P.
address, and the corresponding P.C.he
used. Shi Tao was arrestedand put in
jail for ten years.>>NARRATOR: In February
2006,representatives of Yahoo, Google, Cisco and
Microsoftappeared before a Congressionalcommittee, accused of being accomplicesof
oppression.>>Leading U.S. companies like Google, Yahoo, Ciscoand
Microsoft have compromised both
theintegrity of their product and their duties as
responsiblecorporate citizens.>>We have determined that
wecan do the most for our users and do more to expand accessto
information if we accept the
censorshiprestrictions required by Chinese law. Our decision to createa
presence, any presence, inside of China wasa difficult
one. Self-censorship like thatwhich
we are now required to perform in China is
somethingthat conflicts deeply with our core principles.>>If this Congress wanted
tolearn how to censor, we go to you, that…
thecompany that should symbolize the greatest freedom
ofinformation in the history of man.>>This was not something
thatwe did enthusiastically, or not something that
we’reproud of at all.>>NARRATOR: No one had
tougherquestions to answer than
Yahoo.>>Women and men are going
tothe gulag and being tortured as a direct result
ofinformation handed over to Chinese officials. When Yahoo was asked to
explainits actions, Yahoo said that it must adhere to
locallaws in all countries where it operates.>>The Shi Tao case. The facts of the Shi Tao
caseare distressing to our
company, our employeesand our leadership. When Yahoo China in Beijing
wasrequired to provide
information about a user who we
laterlearned was Shi Tao, we had no information aboutthe
identity of the user or the natureof the
investigation. At the time the demand was
madefor information in this
case, Yahoo China was
legallyobligated to comply with the requirements of
Chineselaw enforcement.>>My response to that is, if the secret policea
half-century ago asked where Anne Frank was
hiding,would the correct answer
be to hand over the information
inorder to comply with local
laws?>>NARRATOR: It is that
aspect–direct cooperation between Western corporationsand
the Chinese police– that is of greatest concern.>>China have a nationalprogram, so-called Golden Shield program. It means try to upgradeand
modernize the police control system.>>NARRATOR:Posing as a provider of surveillance technologyand
database management, exiled dissident Harry
Wucontacted local police authoritiesacross
China. He says that time after time,he
was told he was too late. They already had the
latesttechnology, from the American
corporationCisco.>>Cisco signed a contract with the Provincial
SecurityDepartment, one after the other one. In their proposal,they say very
clear that “we will help you makeyour
work more effective.” Patrol car to patrol
carconnection, patrol car to police
stationconnection, include the voiceidentification, the image identification,
thefingerprints identification. They’re training Chinese
policeto control the country, control the people.>>NARRATOR: Cisco declinedan
interview, but issued a written statement: “Cisco sells identical
productsworldwide. “It is the customer, not
Cisco,who determines how the specific
capabilitieswill be used.” But Harry Wu wonders
whetherCisco is violating the
law.>>Americans have the law,since
1989, not allowed to sellany products
to China about the detectiveor crime
control.>>NARRATOR: The law forbidsthe
sale of any crime control or detection instrumentsor
equipment to China. Cisco says that this
meansequipment such as shotguns, police helmets and handcuffs; networking products are
notcovered by this legislation. Under pressure from Harry Wuand
Congress, the administrationand the State
Department are now re-examining the rules under which technology
companiesshould operate in
China. But the technologyis already
there. It has helpedmake Tank Man
disappear. And if another should
emerge,that technology could
facilitate a swift arrest. But in 1989, this lone
defiancewas an enigma, and the world’s press wanteda
name for the hero. After three weeksof
speculation, news broke. He was named in an
EnglishSunday newspaper as Wang
Weilin, the 19-year-old son of a
Beijingfactory worker. Journalist Alfred Lee
claimedthat friends of the
young man said they’d spotted
himshaven-headed and paraded on state television. Following his world
exclusive,Alfred Lee was
congratulated by British Prime
MinisterMargaret Thatcher, and the name he gavethe Tank
Man has been used by journalists and
commentatorsever since.>>I published the name
WangWeilin after speaking to three excellent contacts
thatI had in Beijing. These contacts were very
closeto what was happening in Tiananmen Square at the time. I knew that once his name
hadcome into the public domain, the Chinese authoritieswouldn’t
be able to do anything to him. They couldn’t…they couldn’t
execute him. It would have brought
outragefrom the world.>>NARRATOR: Experienced
Chinajournalists are deeply
skeptical about the story and the
nameWang Weilin.>>I didn’t believe it
because,you know, it’s great to have a scoop, but if no
onecan follow it, if no one can match it,then it
doesn’t exist. None of the
residentcorrespondents in
Beijing, many of whom are fluent
inChinese and have many sources, many connections, all kindsof
information– no one could match it. I also took into account
thatthe journalist who reported the story was not a
residentforeign correspondent in Beijing.>>NARRATOR: Five days
afterAlfred Lee’s story broke, theLondon Evening Standardcited American
intelligencereports, confirming that 19-year-oldWang
Weilin was dead. The article was attributed to the Standard’s
Beijingcorrespondent, John
Passmore. Do you recall that article?>>Um, not at all, and now
youtell me that it was American intelligence sources, I know it couldn’t have been
mewriting it, because I didn’t have
anyAmerican intelligence
sources. I… I had British diplomats
whohelped me, but not Americans.>>So you don’t have
anyevidence that he was
executed.>>No. No, I never knew who he wasor
what happened to him.>>I mean, is that usual? Because it’s your name there.>>Oh, sure.>>Is it usual that reports
areattributed to a journalist but actually wasn’t writtenby
him?>>Oh, absolutely. It looks so much better
ifyou’ve got a man out in
Beijing and he’s written this report, but the report may have
comefrom anywhere. Sometimes it’s done out
there,sometimes it’s done in the office. But I don’t remember it,I’m
afraid. Well, I remember cobbling a
lotof stuff, but not this one.>>Do you think that’s a
commentboth on China and on
journalism? When access is forbidden,we
fill the gaps.>>Oh, yes, yes. You must have somethingto fill
the gaps. The Chinese have a saying. They call it”news from the
footpath,” and it was the rumor mill. And of course, Beijing
wasabsolutely full of rumors. For generations, I
suppose,Chinese people have had their news from the
next-doorneighbor, because the government
certainlywasn’t going to give
them any. And yes, this sort of
thingwould have gone round the
city like wildfire.>>The honest answer as far
asthe Tank Man is concerned is that we don’t really knowwho
he was or what he was, and I think because of
China,we’ll probably never know.>>Probably not.>>I followed the paper trailof
the reports that appeared in the Western press, naming
himas Wang Weilin, the reports that he had
beenexecuted. I looked into these, and I just concluded at the
endof that investigation that we actually had no
ideawhat this man was called, what his real name was, and we had even less ideaof
what had happened to him. He’d simply disappeared.>>NARRATOR: There’s beenonly
one crack in the wall of silence. In 1990, Jiang Zemin, the
manwho would soon be president of China was asked, point
blank,by Barbara Walters.>>What happenedto the young
man?>>I think this young man
maybenot killed by the tank.>>No. But did you arrest him? We heard he was arrestedand
executed.>>(translated):Well, I can’t
confirm whether this young man
youmentioned was arrested or
not.>>You do not knowwhat happened
to him?>>But I think never,never
killed.>>You think he was neverkilled?>>I think never killed.>>Never killed.>>NARRATOR: This was the
lastofficial statement ever made on the subject.>>Every yearat the anniversary, I get phone calls, I
haveinterviews requests, I have journalists,I have
teachers, I have students asking
me,asking my organization– where is him, who is him,how is
him now? But until now, today,I don’t
have an answer.>>NARRATOR: For over a year,we
also followed every lead, speaking to anyone who
claimedto know the young man’s
name or his fate until, like those who had followedthe
trail before us, we came to understandthat it is
the mystery that gives the Tank Manhis
enduring power.>>He didn’t needto have a name. He spoke for the masses,the
many who had been silenced on June 4. He was all of them;he didn’t
need a name. He still doesn’t need a
namebecause the point he made, everyone got it,everyone heard
it. It will endure long afterthis
regime has become history.>>NARRATOR: Our journey
insearch of Tank Man brought us face to facewith
that other great mystery, China itself. Can the leadership’s
greatgamble of economic reform and political repressionsucceed, or will the spirit of Tank
Maninevitably rise again?>>The power of that story
isnot getting weaker because of the time, because
wedon’t know who he is; it’s actually getting stronger. That ultimate spirit of
freedomwill last longer than the strength of tanksand
machine guns. In the long frame of
history,it’s the human freedom,
courage, dignity will stay and prevail. That picture will testifythat
forever.

100 Comments

  • Reply Liger Dave June 10, 2019 at 1:35 am

    It’s funny how coincidental this event was. A professional photographer happened to be there at right time

  • Reply Johnny Walker June 11, 2019 at 4:51 am

    Syria , was to be. Had it been different. Regime change, guaido installed…

  • Reply Xeyon Yu June 11, 2019 at 9:14 am

    The government should make the law to protect the right for workers to live a normal life with basic rights to rest and enjoy the life! So there would be no excuse for owners of those factories require them to work all the time regulated by law.

  • Reply Xeyon Yu June 11, 2019 at 10:38 am

    The translation for the girls are not that accurate, which may lead misunderstanding. The translation is that the girl would go to other countries, but what she said is earn some money in other countries and then do some business back in China. Only a little bit bias. Overall it’s a good documentary.

  • Reply Xinyu Yang June 11, 2019 at 1:06 pm

    It's interesting many viewer not realise its a documentary from 2006, and now is 2019. It's grateful that FRONTLINE record part of the Chinese history at Jun 1989. Many problem in the documentary has changed. It will be more grateful FRONTLINE can do a documentary about Chinese society today.

  • Reply oussama regragui June 11, 2019 at 5:12 pm

    This was morroco in 1965

  • Reply tinaamariee😘 June 12, 2019 at 8:01 am

    I really wish people would stop looking for him. Although, knowing his identity would be cool. If he or his family is still alive I think we owe him the peace of mind of not having to live in fear of being found. Don’t let our own selfish needs ruin this mans life. Maybe he will instruct his family to release his identity after his death.

  • Reply Wenshan Li June 12, 2019 at 12:33 pm

    Why don't you produce a documentary of the tank driver?

  • Reply Yan Jiang June 12, 2019 at 3:39 pm

    The student's leadership all (except one) flew out of Tiananmen square, out of China before Jun 4th, 1989, leaving all other students on the ground until the army march in. Right now they are taking interviews from a safe distance, expressing their memory for their peers. Why the fk all the leadership withdraw first, not letting the normal student be aware of the what is coming! that's not about fighting to last. That is a total cowardly action. Shame on them! Absolute hypocritical!

  • Reply bg147 June 12, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    I am rather certain those were not security people who took him away.

  • Reply Raymond Zhao June 13, 2019 at 6:49 am

    does anyone konw how many ARMED.soldiers were. killed
    fuck you

  • Reply Roger Brown June 13, 2019 at 7:17 am

    Thank you

  • Reply FRONTLINE PBS | Official June 13, 2019 at 2:36 pm

    Learn more about how the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre has influenced the Chinese Communist Party of today: https://to.pbs.org/2F6JnOz

  • Reply Andy Ng June 13, 2019 at 5:20 pm

    Can you report Julian Assange? He is the founder of WikiLeaks.

  • Reply Preston Martinez June 13, 2019 at 8:30 pm

    The sad thing is is that it didn't change anything really.

  • Reply Anil Kumar June 14, 2019 at 3:12 am

    I hate this type of country

  • Reply Michael V June 14, 2019 at 4:21 am

    This doesn't feel like a Frontline production and it's somewhat underwhelming.

  • Reply hermosbird June 14, 2019 at 6:09 am

    Tank man only describes one thing.
    That China is a country with freedom.

    Think about a black guy stand in front of an armed officer in US like that.
    Think about a Muslim living at some areas of Mideastern land and stand in front of US army.

  • Reply ElPocho DelMundo June 16, 2019 at 3:11 am

    "Tin soldiers and Li Pang comin' We're finally on our own. La La Ya hear 'em drummin, thousands dead in Tianemin."

  • Reply ElPocho DelMundo June 16, 2019 at 3:14 am

    I'm thinking the CCP is in a tail wagging the dog situation. They've gone way into too much debt, all the ghost cities, and they're in trouble. They're kicking all these westerners out now, or making it impossible to stay.
    This says it was just posted, but I'm not sure when it was made.

  • Reply mueez adam June 16, 2019 at 2:27 pm

    Exactly what I was looking for, thanks

  • Reply Scar626 June 17, 2019 at 11:48 am

    God damn US, you're trying so hard.
    Laying it on thick as you become more desperate.

    China's now number one, just except it

  • Reply Love AndLight June 17, 2019 at 6:51 pm

    and 2019 history is repeating itself Hong Kong China in the protest as of today tell the world tell the world Frontline tell the world because it seems like the media is not paying attention to these people in Hong Kong fighting for their damn freedom in the China regime is at it again wanting to control as many people as possible taking churches down taking Bibles out of homes taking pictures of Jesus out of people's homes arresting people without a trial freedom is where there is God and when you take God out of a country you will take out freedom so China is repeating history

  • Reply Joe Chan June 17, 2019 at 8:17 pm

    The tank man footage raised the following questions:
    1. The filming is like filming a staged event; the filming angle was excellent, the screen was movie-like stable, and the zooming lens was so powerful. The modern and powerful filming equipment was not available to the Chinese during that time.
    2. The Tank-man stood there long before the tanks reached him, why did the tanks change direction driving towards him then stop in front of him to create this “tank-man” sensation? The Chang’an St is so wide the tanks could easily drove straight to avoid the tank-man.
    3. The tanks were leaving the Tiananmen Square, why did the Tank-man stop the tanks leaving the Tiananmen Square away from the students?
    The Tank-man just did not fit the Tiananmem Square Massacre narrative spread by the Western media.

  • Reply Di Di June 18, 2019 at 10:39 am

    Can a Palestinian stop a mighty Jewish tank I dont know because there is no such video exist as jews are your friends.

  • Reply Antong June 19, 2019 at 5:35 am

    1:17:45 Fake news at its finest. China never executed him. The fact that the tank stopped for him is the best proof for it. Now imagine if it were in the US, and say there's an armed policeman let alone a tank, and imagine this man doing these "threatening actions", he would be shot on the spot right away.

  • Reply Kayla J June 19, 2019 at 5:52 am

    It's funny that these people could HEAR and INTERPRET what the tankman, who was a Chinese, was saying at 5:56, 6:13, 6:56. Me, who grew up in China and watched the same footage several times, found it extremely challenging and impossible to hear and understand the conversation that they had.
    7:00 "we don't know exactly what he said, but it's clear that's what he wanted to say" Hmmm. How is it possible to know what someone wants to say when he's unknown to you and you can't hear what he said at all.

    But this is what we could see in the video: a guy purposely stopped the leaving tanks from moving forward multiple times while the tank went different direction trying to avoid hurting the man every single time.

    You can call him a hero or lunatic or whatever, but that's your own subjective interpretation with little supportive evidence. Stop using biased opinion as if it was true to mislead the viewers.

  • Reply nnitro June 21, 2019 at 2:53 am

    You know the government had the plan for the massacre. Its like a boss battle with too many phases. Like the turning off of lights with tanks crushing the people.

  • Reply Nick B June 21, 2019 at 9:26 am

    First, I did not watch the full video, I skipped a lot. This looks an anti-China propaganda to me. Second, those tanks were leaving the Square. What was the tank man doing? Turning them back? What is in the bags that he is holding? Porn videos? Not a good time. The tank driver made a huge effort to avoid him. Nowhere did he try to run over him. I have also seen the photoshopped tank man, there were about 1,000 people in the background. Yes, China has bad human rights. Unlike American will do it in the name of freedom and Democracy, they will topple your government, destroy your Cities and wipe out your population. But it is fine for US to do it. Tiananmen Massacre? Short answer: a very successful Western propaganda, totally blown out of propotion, much like the Boston massacre. I am a Taiwanese and a long time US resident.

  • Reply Lilkeer June 23, 2019 at 6:34 am

    Those police are cowards using their weapons on innocent people. Hmmm I about I got to their family and kill them let’s see how they feel, I bet their family feel ashamed, well they should be.

  • Reply The Russian kowalski June 23, 2019 at 8:35 pm

    Why is this video just a blank imagine of a square?

  • Reply MyNameisLinkkeepingreal June 25, 2019 at 12:35 pm

    Who votes now that Mainland China will attack Taiwan by next year? Please raise your hands, folks. It's coming.

  • Reply Donald Edward June 26, 2019 at 2:11 am

    Now just one man rules. He is like the emperor of bygone days.

  • Reply CloverHAL June 26, 2019 at 3:50 am

    Just to know : did I juste see an armored vehicle run over people ? There’s eye witnesses telling they did this on multiple occasions

  • Reply Tien Manh June 26, 2019 at 9:56 am

    tears down and breathless after watching this documentary. I wonder why life is so tough for them.

  • Reply RinoKiiu June 26, 2019 at 4:48 pm

    i heard that the tanks actually ran over tank man. is that true…?

  • Reply weidong Ye June 30, 2019 at 11:55 am

    老美最擅长的就是制造/利用内部矛盾以最小的代价来打垮对手。民主人权只不过是老美的鸡毛掸子罢了。那么多的共产党国家都被你们搞变天了,共产党目前在中国依旧如日中天。是你们努力不够,还是你们的把戏被看穿了?fool me once, no 2nd time.

  • Reply Firefly June 30, 2019 at 6:27 pm

    The ambulances moved in amongst all the people who were on the grids? I did not see like ghrvx

  • Reply Firefly June 30, 2019 at 6:37 pm

    High Speed rail too expensive and empty?! You have not been on a HSR in China?

  • Reply ericdaryl July 4, 2019 at 5:21 pm

    前半段还行,后半段就不是很客观了。First half is ok,Rest is not very accurate。

  • Reply C H July 6, 2019 at 7:48 pm

    American tank will over pass on him no waiting

  • Reply C H July 6, 2019 at 7:50 pm

    if you want to make something real, then you need to use all real fact instead of starting from fact then creating/guessing…

  • Reply Vinny Cornalias July 11, 2019 at 6:12 pm

    Kill all the fucking traitors and trouble makers! I think it's right for martial law!

  • Reply Eddie Gee July 12, 2019 at 2:37 pm

    This is why Americas 2nd Amendment is so important and liberals in America wants to give up the guns.. SMH

  • Reply James Maher July 13, 2019 at 4:13 am

    Look at these geldings from Google and Yahoo. Do not these timid, white males explain all that is wrong with the western world?

  • Reply Alice Last July 13, 2019 at 3:33 pm

    1:05:07 It's fake. They paid for these 4 "students" to say that.

    I graduated from this university several years ago, and all of my friends had been aware of these kinds of stuff when they were freshmen.
    We even knew some details this video didn't mention, such as information about the lead students, differences between the students from several universities.

    There is a widespread joke in our college that "Why Tsinghua University got better facilities?
    Cuz their team lost their way to Tiananmen Square in 1989."
    (Tsinghua & Peking are the top 2 universities in China, they are always been mentioned together)

    这4个托演得太假了点

  • Reply aunt jenifer July 15, 2019 at 10:23 am

    Does anybody remember tank man getting run over and killed and that's why it was a huge story! Because this guy just stopped in the tank and it's stopping isn't a big story at least it's not the story that I remember

  • Reply Jia Lucy July 16, 2019 at 12:34 am

    I would kindly suggest the westerns to STFU about this incidence. It’s been so many years, why do these Western media still like to use this video to promote your famous so-called "human rights"? You care about what you think or you care about China? I want to ask you, do you know the War of Resistance against Japan in China, or called The Second Sino-Japanese War? Do you know how many Chinese women and children have been raped or killed by the Japanese army in China in the 14 years From September 18, 1931 (September 18 Incident) to August 15, 1945 (Japan surrendered)?! According to official statistics, the number of casualties in the Japanese invasion of China reached more than 35 million, and the cumulative number of irregular deaths in China reached at least 280 million. Do you have any f**king idea of what these numbers mean?! Do you have any f**king idea of what they mean to the Chinese people?!

    Hitler killed a total of 11 million people, including Jews and non-Jews. Japan killed 280 million Chinese people. Now may I ask why do you want to show and what you want to show with such the same video/picture year after year? I guess you must do this because you care for the Chinese people, do you? Lolllllllll. If you really care for the Chinese people, why don't you post some meaningful pictures from the War of Resistance against Japan rather than the MAN vs TANK? I have never seen when you Western media published any meaningful reports of the Japanese atrocities and the true courage, strength, and perseverance of the Chinese people in the War of Resistance against Japan. Why? Cuz u never care for China.

    I am not saying you should care for China, cuz you are from western countries, not from China. But why do you enjoy posting the above video again and again so much? You western media have already taken the maximum advantages out of this person in the video to oppose China to the extreme, so now plz STOP! Okay? Plz do yourselves a favor, stop take advantages of others' pain to promote your own happiness or interests.

  • Reply Bill Hathaway July 18, 2019 at 12:52 am

    One of the untold and undiscussed facts about this Tiananmen Protest is that it started as a race riot directed at African Students who were chased out of China by the protesters and students. That endeavor was successful. The citizens and students then turned their attention and anger toward the oppressive Chinese Government. This is where the media picks up the narrative labeling this a "Freedom" protest. But it began as a racial pogrom directed at African men studying in Chinese Universities. There is much racism in China ironic since there are few people there who are NOT Chinese.

  • Reply ChaplainPeter1 July 19, 2019 at 11:21 pm

    I thought that communism was to help the working class. What you just saw is the real goal of Marxism. All the products we buy from China are from poor people brutally driven working 13 hrs. a day, 7 days a week for $120.oo a month as those young ladies who were interviewed. That's just under 31 cents an hour! Power companies killing, driving the poor off the land. Then the human organ harvesting (which is not in this movie ) is what the world will look like under the antichrist with Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and others tracking down the Christians to kill them. Shame on these traitors to mankind just to make a buck. Your reward is waiting for you, judgment day for the atrocities comes fast. As much as I like to save money to buy cheap products, I think we must draw the line. This is a form of slavery. His servant, Peter

  • Reply Eugene Tan July 22, 2019 at 1:54 am

    When was this documentary made ? Seems aged and inaccurate to what I see in Guangzhou of several years ago.

  • Reply Pale Zombie July 22, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Jim Morrison said “They got the guns, but we got the number.” This protest underscores how people can change the world, not military force in ones own country.

  • Reply Chinese Democracy July 26, 2019 at 9:22 pm

    It's high time for a revolution in China and bring down the CCP regime with hard working Chinese people who has been exploited and cast out at the end from economic prosperity they brought through their sweats and bloods.

  • Reply Marlo Mike July 28, 2019 at 12:50 pm

    25:14 sum erie ass music

  • Reply Ro lf August 1, 2019 at 8:43 am

    So, what happened to the three workers who "opened up"? 54:55

  • Reply Thanh Trung Dinh Van August 1, 2019 at 9:44 am

    Li Peng has kicked the bucket on July 22, 2019

  • Reply MaxTakeANap August 2, 2019 at 3:23 pm

    r/madlad

  • Reply Captain Grizzly August 8, 2019 at 9:29 pm

    just start the war. im old but ill sign up.

  • Reply David Purcell August 11, 2019 at 2:03 am

    Although leftist PBS would argue otherwise, they themselves provide a perfect illustration here of why American citizenry will never give up their Constitutional right to bear arms, against an oppressive govt, at least not without a civil war.

  • Reply edwardschlosser1 August 14, 2019 at 6:19 pm

    THIS IS WHY THE USA HAS A SECOND AMENDMENT. The disarmed are slaves to a repressive state. Liberty is ONLY secured by killing, NOT by being killed.

  • Reply edwardschlosser1 August 14, 2019 at 6:20 pm

    A FAILURE. Still slaves all these years latter. ALL for NOTHING. LOSERS.

  • Reply edwardschlosser1 August 14, 2019 at 6:26 pm

    Trading with a slave state like China is immoral. END ALL TRADE WITH CHINA. MAGA!!!!

  • Reply Akmal Hafiz August 17, 2019 at 7:55 am

    Looks like money also play a role on this one

  • Reply Tony Chan August 20, 2019 at 2:24 am

    Hong Kong stand up

  • Reply Coco Taveras August 20, 2019 at 4:04 am

    1:03 you can't quell the thirst for freedom, it is a natural born right for which all peoples long for and deserve! It is inevitable, that the people will stand up against authoritarian governments and it is what is transpiring in Hong Kong right now as we speak!

  • Reply YingHan He August 23, 2019 at 7:09 am

    Brain washing again? All I see is the tank tried so hard to aviod this tank hero. And people run in to get him out of the way. Imaging if u do this in usa, might get excuted straight away. Plus those camera is the reason that we can walk on a Street at night feeling safely. You can disagree with me, but with the tank man, every thing is just stores with no real evidence.

  • Reply Donald Edward August 23, 2019 at 8:45 pm

    FRONTLINE is very important to me. I hope it continues forever.

  • Reply evil Duck August 24, 2019 at 5:32 am

    I really fear for the people of Hong Kong ….

  • Reply Rafael Jimenez August 25, 2019 at 3:25 am

    KEEP VOTING DEMOTARD AND THE USA IT WILL HAVE TANKS MANS

  • Reply Salvatore Cardamone August 25, 2019 at 10:24 am

    Instead of causing global fear, why don't you investigate the pedophiles in America from Cliton to Trump

  • Reply sj su August 25, 2019 at 4:29 pm

    The keypoint of Tianmen is CPC knew that their economy growth eclipse every horrible thing they did. So they only need to sacrifice minority to keep majority happy. They did it in 1997 and now they are doing it again while ordinary majority is satified with this.

  • Reply billy manilli August 26, 2019 at 6:28 pm

    Tank Man must have balls made of forged billet kryptonite

  • Reply Ondrej von Hamburg August 28, 2019 at 3:15 pm

    Look, maybe it starts with students but it always ends with criminals – if communist china has been fallen this day, many people had been killed later within chaos.

  • Reply Gustavo Medrano August 28, 2019 at 7:32 pm

    1:10:35 all those companies are traitors! betraying the USA it values… so a few of them can make money, they are not just betraying the country but human race…

  • Reply R W August 29, 2019 at 9:43 pm

    Tank man could quite easily have just been the local looney.

  • Reply Ian Hiltz August 30, 2019 at 10:56 am

    They violated the Geneva conventions.

  • Reply Backpacker One64 August 31, 2019 at 11:01 pm

    "If Tank Man has survived, where is he now?"

  • Reply Backpacker One64 August 31, 2019 at 11:31 pm

    Chinese travel now. But they don't seem to take advantage of free media in foreign countries. Instead, they shop, take selfies and eat Chinese food in Chinese restaurants in foreign lands.

  • Reply Exceptional Pleb September 2, 2019 at 3:14 am

    Hong Kong protests: The Tank Man 2: Electric Bugaloo

  • Reply Fuc I dropped My Spaghetti September 4, 2019 at 1:47 pm

    Had to pause at 12 minutes so i didnt start crying

  • Reply Shanhui Chen September 8, 2019 at 10:05 am

    My question was why we have never seen a video or picture of tank running over people? Why we didn't see any images of what those people described about "the blood shade massacre?" Media technology should be pretty advanced in the western at that time, why they didn't record of what they were talking about? This man made story has been believed by the western for 30 years and still talking about it like a horror story. It's interesting that how people can choose what they want to believe, not what actually happened.

  • Reply lee chun him September 14, 2019 at 11:45 am

    Modern David vs Goliath

  • Reply Rodrick Evans September 20, 2019 at 9:04 pm

    Just think of all the blood that is on China's hands….

  • Reply Alana Urban September 28, 2019 at 1:31 am

    Americans have no right to call themselves oppressed. This is oppression.

  • Reply YANG Liu October 2, 2019 at 6:59 pm

    ahaha nice cut

  • Reply Bernie love October 7, 2019 at 7:01 am

    Tank Man and tiananmen square are America-made hoaxes.

  • Reply Flat FLSTF October 8, 2019 at 3:29 pm

    H

  • Reply Ernest Torić October 12, 2019 at 1:15 pm

    member when journalists had dignity

  • Reply Iris lol October 16, 2019 at 12:14 pm

    After learning from HK rioters experience, China well done at 64 is totally right.

  • Reply William Miller October 17, 2019 at 2:00 am

    Shows how one man can change the world. I remember this vividly, it's forever etched in my mind. He is the very definition of a 'hero', and will forever live in my heart until the day I die!

  • Reply Aditya Sinha October 17, 2019 at 5:51 pm

    As a Indian living in India, I am completly ready for exchanging my Democratic Freedoms for Economic Growth and Jobs. In India you have those Democratic Freedoms which are good but those freedoms won't fill my stomach and pay my parents Healthcare.

  • Reply Ashtar Gent October 18, 2019 at 10:43 pm

    and to this day, the Guinness Book of Records is still searching for him to award him the record for the biggest balls

  • Reply Ashtar Gent October 18, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    105 viewers are chinese and see a blank screen for 1 hour

  • Reply Meng Infi October 19, 2019 at 1:52 am

    From the perspective of a Chinese, this video is fucking meaningless , I am not an agent of CCP , I am not being brainwashed , we know things better than u ,is our country , our culture, if u don’t respect, I tell u fuck off, don’t treat yourself like a god saving other people. We don’t want yourself Christian culture

  • Reply The Shotgun Shogun October 22, 2019 at 3:25 am

    It kinda makes sense why tank man wouldn’t step up to identify himself. It would paint a huge target in his back for the Chinese Government.

  • Reply Rich Sage October 24, 2019 at 7:45 am

    Apparently they think they found out, tank man's real name is Wang Weilin.

  • Reply Comfortably0 October 28, 2019 at 1:41 pm

    Who's watching after Band in China aired in South Park?

  • Reply Lennox October 29, 2019 at 5:42 am

    When will Chinese people Rise up again and kick out the Fascist Chinese Regime ?

  • Reply David Lamont November 4, 2019 at 8:48 am

    The answer to what happens when you don't allow your citizens to arm themselves is atrociously answered here.

  • Reply Rotten Little Apple November 6, 2019 at 2:24 am

    5:41 is when you begin to see the footage of tank man

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