“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.” –Howard Zinn
Tank Man: China’s unknown dissenting voice against the state actions.
Perhaps the most iconic image of the 20th century, the ‘Tank Man’ has come to represent the struggle of common man against autocratic power. The image was taken during the student led protest in Beijing which took place in the spring of 1989, which demanded political change, freedom of expression, and freedom of speech. Vast numbers of protestors occupied the center of the city for weeks. On June 3, the Chinese government decided to forcibly end the protest in what has come to be known as the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
Despite the global appeal of the image today it is barely recognizable inside China; even students of the Beijing University – where the protest took place – do not know what it is. Not only did the government successfully crush the protest it managed to institute stronger checks on press freedom and free speech. Today China lives under a heavily regulated media and internet regime, and actions of defiance like the Tank Man’s are unimaginable in the face of a monolithic state.