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Tiananmen Square is the large plaza near the center of Beijing, China, named after the Tiananmen (literally, Gate of Heavenly Peace) which sits to its north, separating it from the Forbidden City. It has great cultural significance as a symbol because it was the site of several key events in Chinese history
Tank Man, or the Unknown Rebel, is the nickname of an anonymous man who became internationally famous when he was videotaped and photographed during the protests at Beijing's Tiananmen Square on June 5, 1989. Several photographs were taken of the man, who stood in front of a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks, preventing their advance. One of the most widely reproduced versions of the photograph was taken by Jeff Widener of the Associated Press from the sixth floor of the Beijing Hotel, about half a mile (800 meters) away from the scene, through a 400-millimeter lens.
Little is publicly known of the man's identity or that of the commander of the lead tank. Shortly after the incident, British tabloid the Sunday Express named the man as Wang Weilin , a 19-year-old student; however, the veracity of this claim is dubious. Numerous rumors have sprung up as to the man's identity and current whereabouts, but none are backed by hard evidence.
There are several conflicting stories about what happened to him after the demonstration. In a speech to the President's Club in 1999, Bruce Herschensohn—former deputy special assistant to President of the United States Richard Nixon—reported that he was executed 14 days later; other sources say he was killed by firing squad a few months after the Tiananmen Square protests. In Red China Blues: My Long March from Mao to Now, Jan Wong writes that the man is still alive and is hiding in mainland China.
The People's Republic of China government made few statements about the incident or the people involved. In a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters, then-CCP General Secretary Jiang Zemin was asked what became of the man. The Chinese leader first stated (through an interpreter), "I can't confirm whether this young man you mentioned was arrested or not." Jiang then replied in English, "I think never killed." A June 2006 article in the Hong Kong Apple Daily stated that there are rumors that the man is now residing in Taiwan.
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