To mark the 29th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown, people from around the world have shared photos of themselves standing defiantly with their shirt tucked in and holding a bag in each arm, mimicking the stance of one of the most iconic figures of the 20th century.
On June 5th, 1989, a single man blocked the way of a column of tanks on Beijing’s Chang’an Avenue on the day after hundreds if not thousands of people died on the streets of China’s capital as the military was ordered in to quell student-led, pro-democracy protests on Tiananmen Square.
After causing the row of more than 20 tanks to come to a halt, the man was eventually dragged away from the road by two individuals—it’s not clear if they were police or simply passers-by. He has never been identified and is known around the world as only “Tank Man.”
According to the Guardian, in the view of Australia-based Chinese political cartoonist Badiucao, Tank Man’s “idealism, passion, sense of responsibility, and confidence that an individual can make a change” is something that has been lost in China’s young generation of today. Hoping to restore a bit of that fire, the artist initiated a campaign this year asking his followers on Twitter to share a photo of themselves as Tank Man as the 29th anniversary of what is known in China as the June Fourth Incident approached.
Over the last few days, a number of Twitter users from the United States, Canada, New Zealand, and other countries have responded to his call under the hashtags #tankman and #tankman2018:
— MySiberia__ (@CanadaGoose1124) June 3, 2018
29 years on. Find your expression, treasure it. Be on truth’s side. // Something my grandma recently said shook me. ‘Why would someone want to go against a “strong” country like China?’ I don’t know, perhaps not everyone is fond of bullies. .
— Into the Fort (@intothefort) June 4, 2018
— Xiani P.Ch. 鄭夏霓 (@Xiani_PCh) June 4, 2018
— 周锋锁 Fengsuo Zhou (@ZhouFengSuo) June 3, 2018
— 紐西蘭六四紀念 (@cn64nz) June 3, 2018
— Mumbai || Paused (@SloganMurugan) June 4, 2018
— Jian Alan Huang (@hnjhj) June 4, 2018
— 马了个 (@majunlive) June 4, 2018
— 紐西蘭六四紀念 (@cn64nz) June 2, 2018
— Jian Alan Huang (@hnjhj) June 3, 2018
Meanwhile, the US has marked the 29th anniversary of the crackdown with a statement from Secretary of State Mike Pompeo calling on China to come clean and release the number of people who died on that bloody day nearly three decades ago.
China has responded, once again, by telling the US to mind its own business.