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June 4, 2020 67 min
Tank Man. An indelible image burned in our brains. But what led to this extraordinary event? Chuck and Josh walk you through the days and weeks leading up to the massacre at Tiananmen Square, which is more of a cautionary tale than we realized. Learn more about your ad-choices at
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Episode Transcription

The text below is machine transcribed.

Hey the everybody, it's your pals, Josh and Chuck, and we wanted to record an intro to this episode because when we first recorded it and got it ready to publish and edit things were a lot different in America, because that was like a week ago.

Yeah exactly - and I think the events of the past week or two have taught us that something like this podcast episode is more relevant than ever and just kind of worked out that way.

Yep, and we also wanted to say that we grieve the death of George Floyd and everybody. WHO's ever died unfairly at the hands of the police and we stand with black lives matter and anyone who's fighting for justice in the United States. Absolutely so, when you hear this episode on Tinaman Square and think well that cound never happen much less in the United States.

Be careful because that's the kind of dangerous thinking that can get us all in trouble and I'm with the show, welcome to step. You should know a production of iHeartRadio have stuff works, hey and welcome to the podcast, I'm Josh Clark and there's Charles W Chuck Brian over there, and it's just the two of US Chuck and I decided we can make it if we try just the two of US chuckers and I, how long did you plan that buddy? It just came pouring right out of my brain through my mouth and just landed with he thud on the desk yeah rip to the Great Bill Weathers.

I was thinking more Austin powers, yea all righ peded him too.

What Austin powers he died a long time ago right.

You got me there for a second.

If Yo did Mike Myers a bath, I thought Mike Myres had passed and then I was like wait. Te Doctr, evil dines like wait, dtr Ev was not real.

It was really confusing for a second ther man, so I last night did one of the things that I love doing as part of our work chuck, which is watch a really great documentary, yeah paid for it, and you love that grate.

I love it.

There's a really good documentary by frontline PBS's show about Tankman, which you proe girl, tank man, totally different kind of thing.

This is not Laurie Petty.

This is an unknown person who no one, as far as anyone knows knows their name, but even if Youare you familiar with tank man, just the name you've, probably if you live outside of China seein this picture, it's a picture of just a a lone man wearing a white kind of dress, shirt and black pants, holding a couple of shopping bags to the side staring down a column of heavy tanks that he has stopped single handedly just by standing in front of them.

Yeah I mean it's one of those indelible images that if you were, you know it still resonates. Obviously, but if you were, you know cognizant of the news n one housand, nine hundred and eighty nine, then you could not escape this image or forget it yeah, and I mean what you were close to around eighteen or so so I'm sure this really had a big impact on you and it was going on right.

Yeah I mean just just had graduated high school so like this must have really kind of raised the hackles on the back of your neck and got you pretty worked up like the rest of the world. I would guess yeah, I remember it being kind of one of the first big political events that got my head out of my butt yeah.

It did that for a lot of people too. I mean like what happened that that day or those days like think June, third and fourth, one thousand nine hundred and eighty nine, the communist regime that had a iron grip on the country and still does today, maybe even more so today, almost fell was almost toppled by a popular uprising and to stamp it out. The government went to the most extreme measures possible, which was commanding the army to murder citizens. Unarmed peacefully protesting citizens were gun down in the streets like like, like they were enemy combatants, Bab, basically in the in their own city and Beijing, and it was just a horrific thing that managed to kind of trickle out and definitely captured. The world's attention pulled the world's head out of its butt, as you would say, yeah, so you know to tell the story. We need to go back in time a little bit and big thanks to our Pal da Rus, for helping us out with this one. This is very good, in fact, I it was on a different laptop and I kind of forgot. It was sitting in my folder when I I'd been there for like a month or so yeah, it's been there a while and then I saw it and I was like Oh wait a minute. We got Sanamm an square on the burner, so yeah they did a great job and we have to travel back in time to Preie one thousand nine hundred and eighty nine, when the sort of feeling among students and China was that you know what this communism isn't working out so great and we want to start making a little bit of noise and we're not saying to tople our government or anything like that.

But we're saying: Let's get the corruption and check and let's maybe get some prespeech going on, and so some free press and free expression and they thought they could get their.

They thought they could get there, which is what makes this really really sad among many other things, yeah and then even sigder than that to me. Is They almost got there?

You know like this. was I mean this was close tiis like a hair's, breadth away where they brought this so so much to the government torestep and Lai this at their feet that the government had to at least consider, if not openly, to one another.

At least you know do themselves like. Do we just bow to the will of the people and just say? Okay, we were going to do things differently like it was a big big deal.

It was a big deal and I guess preemptively we should say we're going to do our best with with some of the pronunciations of the names theyre really tough.

They are tough and well, as usual, we'll do our best and probably fail than stop short of being perfect. I think we learned our lesson on the underground city, at least we're not going to pronounce x like X, right right, so the students had a little bit of wind in their sales, because they're college students and that's what college students are like. That's why we love them and they thought they had an ally who was a pro reform leader in pretty high up in the Communist Party and Hugh Yall Bang sounds bout right.

Okay, he was forced out of power in eighty seven though, and when he died in April April, fifteenth on Housand, nine hundred and eighty nine.

The memorializing in the morning of his death is what really kind of kickstarted. This whole process that led up to June third yeah and in the lates what you call the president of China was named Deng joping and he was he had been in charge for a while. But in addition to the president in a communist country, you also have the leaders of the Communist Party they're, not exactly like lateral but they're, pretty high up. You have like a prize minister. You have the leader of the party, the general secretary, then you also have the president of the country and Dang was the president of China at the time, but there within the party and within the leadership of the country, including Hugh, and he was kind of the face of this movement. There was this idea that okay, the mauise revolution happened.

Maw was great, but we can't run a country just living by these kind of lofty principles that MOU apoused.

We need to kind of get a little more loose gripped here at least economically, and there was a whole contingent led again by Hue that that basically said, maybe we should kind of ease up on the government planning a little bit and an Le a little bit of free market go and see what happens. We really think that, like there's going to be a lot less starvation, a lot less poverty if we just lad a little bit of this stuff into there. So there was this kind of progressive movement, but then, when Hugh, when this, when these protests kind of started, one thousand nine hundred and eighty seven, they basically showed hugh the door like you were saying he was. He was removed from office because he had kind of demonstrated that that level of, like loosening of the grip on the people, would lead to things like protests and demonstrations, but it was too late. They had opened the door now and then, like you said when he died, that was, that was kind of the the lip match that got thrown unter this powder, Cag and I'd. Take it you're on a first name basis. Now, because it's easier to pronounce Hugh, he was actually his last name in China. They Sai a same first. Yes, so I' Y with it bothways I'm having my my dumpling and eating it too.

Oh Man, that's the best way to have it so, and I learned something new today to thanks chuck. That's basically why I wake up in the morning.

So what happened is you know? He died on April Fifeen, ighty, nine bunch of students, like thousands of students, got together in Tianeman Square to mourn his passing and Janamand Square. We should say it's an enormous place: it's the largest public space in the world right in the middle of Beijing.

It is just it's the town center, unlike any town center in the world, yeah there's like no trees anywhere it's just flat and then edged by enormous public buildings. It makes you feel very small yeah and it's also a perfect place to get like thousands and thousands and thousands of people together yeah, and this is what happened during the funeral celebration in Tianaman Square and it didn't go on for too long before students started to sort of use this as an opportunity to not only mourn someone that they believed was going to champion their cause.

But they said we can use this now and, let's just let's just camp out unless hold some speeches and let's sort of start giving our demands for political reform like throwing peace, signs and just basically peaceful protest that you would imagine students from and most of them came from Beijing University which, from what I understand is the the premiere elite university in the entire country.

So these were like th, the children of the elites, as it were, so there 's definitely a measure of tolerance of this going on.

Whereas had it been, you know just a popular uprising or popular protest from the start, they probably would have been treated a lot more roughly and it certainly would not have been allowed to have go on as long as it had yeah - and you know it's interesting - you mentioned tha the sort of Split and ideologies within the party which is really interesting to think about now, but they were split about what to do about these demonstrations.

This was the biggest civil protest longest running since communism had taken hold one thousand nine hundred and forty nine, and there were some people. It wasn't just like all right: let's go in there and mow him down.

There was a complete faction within the party that was like. You know what these are students and they want what's best for us, and maybe we should listen to him a little bit yeah, because it's like you, said they weren't, saying down with Communism Down with the Chinese Communist Party.

They were, they were saying like down with corruption, and you know we want to. We want a little more free speech like some really basic stuff, that didn't require the entire system to be overthrown, which was, I think, another reason why they were kind of allowed to continue and then yeah. Like you're saying there were sympathetic members of the Communist Party high up in the party who were like no, no, we should just you know, maybe hear them out or just let it this thing fizzle out, but then on the other side was a guy named Lee Pang and he was the he was the antagonist in this whole thing. Most people paint him as the villain, but I read an article about how he's actually the fall? Guy that it was really Deng Jo Ping, who was the president, who was the true architect of all of this and that Lee Ping, while he gets all of the notorious ire credit yeah.

For this whole thing, he didn't he didn't, he wasn't the architect of it, but he also didn't stop his boss, Danjo Ping, from from carrying this out or from being the architect of it too. So it's not like he was a good guy.

He was resy to hate, I think from what I read and it made him a an easy target of the protest and then the aftermath as well yeah - and I think it's you know, I think, people it's easy to paint a good guy in a bad guy. In a situation like this right and he was painted. Definitely is the bad guy and again we're not saying that he was some awesome person, but on the other side was the Communist Party general secretary and his name was Zaozyang and he was the one that was, you know more sympathetic to the cause, basically yeah, and so he was kind of holding back Tonjo, pings, worst impulses and saying like no. We just need to kind of like approach this peacefully or whatever, and he got removed to which I really think kind of highlights just how how much crossing or opposing Dang Jo Ping, where it would get you get you removed at best and actually Jauziyang he spent when he was removed from office. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest, because I mean that's what happens when you Areran from office there they just say, go home and don't leave again you're under political quarantine yeah. So you know they had seen this happening all around them.

The Soviet Union was crumbling.

They saw countries communist countries, people just like these students, kind of rising up and saying that they've had enough, so they were nervous and when Zaziyang went on, he went out of town basically went on to Korea on a state visit.

This is when Lee Ping said all right. Now is our time this guy's out of the country and he's like.

Basically, we can.

We can start the the first piece to toppling these students and it wasn't initially a violent piece. It was an ad, it was in April twenty. Sixth, it was an ad in the peoples daily, the state newspaper, and it was an editorial. Basically that just denounced the demonstrations - and that was their first sort of shot fired was your friend is out of town. Well, they didn't say that, but because he was out of town, they said we're going to run an editorial denouncing this yeah and they basically said look. These students are being misguided, that the whole thing started earnestly as a memorial for for Hugh, but that that it had been taken advantage of by probably outside agitators, maybe even like plants from other governments who were fomenting like a popular uprising out of this genuine. You know sorrow for this guy who wis you know a real real advocate for them, but regardless of how it started or what's going on, we can't. We can't abide this any longer, and if we do there's going to be, I think they put. It will never have another day's peace unless we act, they didn't say brutally, Oh resolutely, unless it's checked resolutely, they said Wich, then in the marginis said see brutally right. Exactly I mean, like that's not checked. Resolutely, is against a popular protest as this menacing stuff.

Should we take a break more menacing stuff, all right, we'll take a break and we'll come back and talk about the effect that this editorial had right after this all righty. So they ran this editorial. They said that the they would be checked resolutely if they didn't disperse and they thought that that would do the job basically, but all hat that had the complete opposite effect: Yeah, like literally overnight people all over China. Four hundred cities across China had people coming out and protesting because they were invigored by these students and what they saw going on in Beijing, and I think it says, Dave had an estimate here of one and ten citizens took to the streets, and these were people of all social strata, all walks of life in China, Yeah Yeah One and ten in Beijing, but then tens to hundreds of millions of protesters all pouring out int the streets and cities across China, like they had a huge problem overnight on their hands like they.

People were like that was the. That was that editorial was the exact wrong move yeah. It was the wrong move and things just kind of went on this way for a little while, until I think, Aboura Midmay, when Gorbachev was coming to visit in China.

So they said this is the perfect chance.

Let's stage a hunger strike and TNM and square - and this was not a good look for the Chinese Communist Party - they were not happy that this is going on what Gorbachev was going to pay the visit yeah, because I mean you want to do - impress Gorbi. He was probably the most popular guy in the world right then N, one thousand nine hundred and eighy nine yeah, they lost faith, and it was. It was a pretty well done, move on the the part of the students who carried out the hunger strike, but that that editorial that kicked all this off that really kind of change things.

There was a huge turn. There was a sea change in the entire thing when regular people started taking up this protest because it I started out as a student protest and now, all of a sudden, it was in every day Chinese person protest and that apparently changed the entire attitude of the government toward this whole thing that was no longer paternal and kind of head, Patty and patient.

It was like wait a minute.

I saw on this frontline documentary that somebody said it was like.

The workers are the ones w who put the Chinese Communist Party in power, and now it suddenly looked like the workers were about to take the power away from them, and this woy big Jesus out of out of them because again, this is a very they had iron stranglehold over their population and there are also there's a lot of corruption in the government too. So the the the whole idea of being removed from power had a lot more at stake than just you know, losing power like there was they. These people had done quite a bit that they might have to answer for after they lost power. You Know Oh yeah, big time they were. They were officially worried at this point right.

You still had Zal calling for cooler heads to prevail here, but - and this is before his removal just before, but Lee Ping said you know what the only way to take care of this is by kind of cracking the whip in a hard hard way.

Marsiall aw should be imposed.

Students heard about this - and this is when the big big protest at Tnaman Square.

I think they estimated like over a million people. One Point: two million people, students ther, were police involved. There were some military that were protesting, and this is when everything really started to gain some momentum, and you know what students thought was the the right direction, but it turns out was a bad move. Probably yeah I mean in Hin you can never yeah sure yeah yeah, I mean like like yeah now, but at the time it was like okaywere we're Goin to go to the mantresses rather than backing down. They said: okay, we're going to escalate on our end as well, if they're going to amass troops and invade Beijing, which is what they did, we're going to meet them and try to drive them out and at first it actually worked.

There was a a first incursion into Beijing of about three hundred thousand Chinese soldiers. The Chinese military showed up invasing and tanks, armored personnel carriers, troop transport trucks, the whole Shabang, like imagine, three hundred thousand soldiers showing up in Atlanta and just basically being like everybody needs to go home.

The thing is, everybody would go home this for probably this first, this first incursion - I guess into Beijing - didn't actually make it to the city center, because the people in the suburbs came out and swamped these army convoys and prevented them from moving forward and actually kept him there in gridlock of a sea of humanity. For about four days, I think yeah I mean it was. It was a huge victory kind of right off the bat they had.

You know they.

They went after these personnel carriers in these tanks they had children, they had older adults, they had they basically kind of paralyzed what they were trying to do and then decided to do a very kind of brilliant thing, which was appeal to the good nature of these soldiers as human beings. Right, I saw one article that kind of guessed tat about. Sixty percent of the PLA soldiers were illiterate.

They were uneducated, they were from out in the country, and these Beijing City folks would approach them and they would bring them food and they would bring them things to drink and they would send their children out to talk to them and say things like you know you should be defending us, you shouldn't be attacking us, you should join us, and some of them did some of those soldiers step down and kind of quit on the spot, knowing full well that they would not end well for them, and the majority of them obviously didn't right right. But even you know, even if they didn't step down and quit, some of them did step down and mingle and talk, and I saw a footage of them when they finally left on the fourth day.

They turned around and retreated away from Beijing.

You know a good third or half of the troops on these trucks that were driving away were waving to the to the people of Beijing who just been, who just spent the last four days like feeding them and talking to them and basically trying to change their minds about this, because I don't know if we made it, we made it clear when the people from the Beijing suburbs swamped these trucks. This is a big nonviolent form of resistance. It wasn't violent yeah, it was.

It was a charm offensive. It was just straight up nonviolent resistance and it worked like it totally worked.

On the one hand, it worked because the Chinese government hadn't, given them orders to fire on anybody and probably gave them orders not to carry out any violence against the people and that that's really why it actually ultimately worked because if, if you're being met with that kind of resistance - and you can't meet that resistance with violence I's not like the soldiers were going to explain their position or the government's position to the Beijing residents and change their minds, there 's a right - I could do but just sit there and then finally turn around and leave, and so at first, the the residents of Beijing were kind of chough with themselves. You know like, like that, really worked. This nonviolent resistance turned back three hundred thousand troops from China's equivalent of Arkansas who just showed up in China's equivalent of New York and a and kept them from invading basically yeah. So the government sees this happen and they they're on full they're on high alert now they're fully worried, and they see the writing on the wall that this could be th. The end of the Communist Party, as we know it yeah.

If we don't squash this thing once and for all, and so they said all right, here's what we're going to do, let's in the army in again, just like, we did the first time except now, you're going to get to Tianamand square and squash this uprising.

If they come out and meet you in the suburbs, take care of things. However, you need to to get to Tianam and square like full authorization to use deadly force. Yeah, and I saw again on that documentary they were saying like they were given guns and ammunition and the ammuition they were given were thumb size bullets, the kind of bullets that from what I could tell they were what's that kind that, like turn into like, like circular SAWS INSIDE PEOPLE? What's it called it's like a really common word? Everybody knows at hallow point I think anyway, they they were meant for like combat the the bullets theyre using these weren't rubber bullets at weren't, even regular Boltsso. They were like combat grade bullets that these the troops were given, and you have to you have to remember to chuck by this time.

There's nobody now because Zo has been removed.

There's nobody arguing against this impulse at least not openly, and so this Impulsul is allowed to go and check nobody stopped and said: Well, wait a minute wait a minute! This is crazy, we're talking about going in and slaughtering our own people.

We have to find another way.

Nobody was saying that and in fact Lee Lee payng was at the very least keeping his mouth shut. If not supporting this whole thing as well yeah, so you know the students get worried that this is what's coming.

Basically, a second wave. They were victorious in that first wave, so they were like you said they were cheff. They were probably like all right bring it on. We wants to do the let's do the same thing again: we're going to charge e yeah pretty much and they did the same thing. They had these.

They improvise these barricades at the entrance points. They blocked off roads with people with buses, tired like stacks of tires and stuff, and on June third, the night of June third, the tanks roll in the personnel vehicles roll in by this time there are some rocks being thrown and some molotof cocktails and stuff like that, and things start to get a little unruly and the PLA just charged through and at nine thirty PM.

The first shots rang out, and it was very clear, very quickly that they were just goingto mow people down yeah. But apparently, even though it was clear to some people to other people, it was so surprising and just so utterly unbelievable that it took a way too long for it to sink in what was going on.

I'm sure everybody was shocked, yeah, so some people, I think just started running when they saw people falling and bodie starting to pile ut. But other people were still you know, throwing rocks and it hadn't really sunk in yet and then, ultimately, eventually everybody got it and they started to turn and run and then, as they would turn and run the the government. The the soldiers would fire into their backs, keep firing into crowds that are running away. Unarmed crowds maybe have rocks. Maybe AF MOLOTOP coctails set a bus on fire, but they don't have guns, they don't have machine guns.

I was looking and apparently chuckd. China has one of the strictest gun policies in the world like if you're just a average Chinese person. You are not armed, you could get a gun if you apply for one and the government gives it to you if you have like a real need for it, like maybe there's bears that live around your house that keep killing your livestock or something. But if you live in Beijing you don't have a gun and it makes me wonder like would this have erupted into civil war?

If Beijing was armed, you know, or would it bi have been even worse, you know woule, they have fought back a lot more if they had had guns who knows, but the fact of the matter is these people did not have guns and they were shot in the back running away by government troops from their own government from their own country, and this is just the first time this happened. This wasn't an isolated incident yeah.

So I read this article I think about three years ago there was a sort of firsthand account from a writer from England named Sir Alan Donald, and it was declassified three years ago. He wrote this account on June. Fifth, so you know we'll finish up on what happened June. Third and fourth, but it was a very fresh account of what happened. He was over there and he got his information from a source who had spoken to a very close friend in China. State Council who apparently previously had always proved a very reliable, very even handed and very factual ind, the things that he would, I guess, leak out to his friend and the ACCOUNTOF.

What happened is just like mind, boggling that they were.

There were snipers, shooting people an on their balconies that weren't even not down on the street protesting.

They said that there were snipers using street cleaners and things just sort of his target practice.

Ther were young women who were begging for their life that were banetted through the chest.

There was one account of a three year old that was wounded and the mom was racing to try and help it and they moed her down.

They were you know, hosing body parts and entrails into the drains of the street.

It was just they were mowing people down at like forty miles per hour, just running people over and these personnel trucks, and it just can't be overstated.

What a complete and utter massacre this was yeah, I mean the the end result of this was, as on the high end. Maybe ten thousand people, civilians, almost almost to a person, was, were killed overnight from June. Third. Fourth in the violence that that took place and then on the next day tune. Fourth, unarmed many of them shot in the back just just killed and including yeah like, like you say, some people weren't even down on the street. They were in their apartment.

They just had he the misfortune of having an apartment whose windows looked out on to tneman square and who had caught the attention of a sniper on nearby roof top like it was just just ghastly, one of the worst things that any government's ever done to its own people. Certainly in modern times it doesn't really get much worse than that yeah. So on honred and thirty am the army is finally in the heart of Beijing.

They have surrounded Tianaman Square.

All of these prote are not all of them sure some people got out of there, but most of these protesters are still there.

They are orderd to leave the they open fire. Again. I think at this point they send in something called the twenty seven army.

Anwhich is the best best I could find is that just was a very loyal division. Apparently that would they knew that would just obey the orders, no matter what and so now they're intanamand sqare they're throwing rocks they're getting straiped by machine gun fire and within a few hours most of Tianemand Square hid empty out.

They were down to about three to five thousand students.

They took a vote.

The student union basically said you want to go or do you want to stay and most people wanted to stay, but the leadership said No. We got to get out of here, otherwise we're all going to be killed, basically yeah. They just said the goes. Have it let's go, and in retrospect that was the smartest possible thing they could have done. There wasn't any anything that would have been gained necessarily by teisial slaughter, but they were all very surprised that they weren't just indiscriminately slaughtered themselves like they. You know a lot of people have been killed, intianamen squore already and they were cornered by the military, but then, rather than just mow them down like had been done to everybody else, they were given an ultimatum that they could either leave now and and just drop the whole uprising thing or they could be jailed prosecuted and probably killed.

So they decided to go and it makes you wonder like would it have had an effect if they had been killed, because these these must have been the very students from the elite Beijing University who ware the sons and daughters of the elite leaders in China at the time.

So what repercussions would there have been had they died, but ultimately it was the right move. It was the smart thing to do, and the best thing to do is for the leadership the students themselves. They were in their early, IES tops to say: Let's we should leave and they did yeah.

So you know, tnaman square itself gets all the press and the and the historical record kind of lies in TN and square, but it was.

It was all over Beijing. The June fourth like this on June third, on June fourth, some say tha, that's where the most loss of life happened in some of the bloodiest I was about to say battle, but it wasn't even a battle. The bloody as part of the massacre right happen the next day in these surrounding streets yeah for Tianamand Square. To have, like you say, all the press. Very little actually happened there. It was mostly in the area around it in the rest of Beijing, but the the street that actually runs in front of Tianeman Square shooing on yeah shoeing on avenue it.

It got the most coverage and has the most record of what happened, because there happened to be a high rise hotel along Shunan avenue that that howsed, a bunch of Western journalists who were surreptitiously recording in photographing this whole thing and documenting it yeah. So they that was very fortuitous because you know we'll get to tank man later, but on this avenue the protesters gathered and they started to get on the PLA troops demanding answers.

The army said all right. You need to disperse again or face the consequences and once again just like in the other instances, the army just open fire and they just barreled down the avenue and people were scrambling. They were getting out of the way they were hiding behind trees and buildings, and there would be a little period of calm and then people would gather up again, and this is what makes us also tragic. Is the people would continuanly get the nerve to try again over and over yeah it a lot of those people? The next day, Ong on Schungan Avenue were the parents of these these protesters, who they wanted to get into Tianimand square to find out what had happened to their kids? They didn't they hadn't heard from them, yet they thought maybe they were dead in there.

So I think that might have been what drove them t to come back over and over again, even after being fired upon, and I saw footage of this there's like after that, first wave, maybe even after the second way. This whole thing went on a dozen or so times where the people would come back up and confront the military of the military would open fire, hom, they'd, run away and then th the people would like gather their courage up again and go do it again, at least after the first or second wave, there's an ambulance that shone like rushing to the scene and they fire on that and they seem to have either killed or possibly injured the driver because it like it, fears off course and runs into like a booth or some sort of some sort.

So ther are firing on ambulances that were coming to help the the injured who theyd fired on just a few minutes earlier yeah I saw one report that they one I'm not sure how it split up, but one troop fired on their own officer and murdered him, because I think he had shown a little bit of resistance or maybe the way I read it. It was a kind of even just like hey. What are we doing here like a little bit of selfdoubt about their mission and soid? They murdered him wow man.

I mean imagine this like whether you're in America or the UK or Australia, like imagine your own army, doing this to you like, showing up in your city and just opening fire like what a just nightmare, SI situation that would be yeah s yo take another break.

Yes, all right, we'll take another break and we'll talk about Tankman and sort of the legacy of the Masscre at Tiaaman Square. Right after this USO, like I said Chuck, there was about on the high end, tenthousand residents of Beijing killed June. Third and fourth over one hundred and eighty nine Soire, the Oh really yeah, I mean the account from the one guy said that it was at least tenhsand wow, and that was from his supposed source from inside the Chinese government, and that's that's just killed, that's not killed or injure this non, just total casualties. That's that's the ells Yep, the the government of China whenever they did acknowledge that this even happened which will get to in a little bit.

They said, I think it was like twowed and forty one like two hundred. Something is what they said and they included in that a lot of soldiers and officers, and it is true that there were reports of you know some of these barricades that people ha put up around Beijing where there were enough people that they overran.

You know troop like troop transports and killed soldiers on board, so there were some soldiers that died, but far and away the most casualties were on the civilian side.

Unarmed civilians ide, keep in mind yeah. I think I saw the Chinese Red Cross initially said twenty seven hundred, but that was quickly squashed and that even seemed super super low right right.

So this is that was June. Fourth, that the worst of the massacre happened. It was in broad daylight and then June. Fifth, things had calmed down some in the sense that there was not necessarily indiscriminate mowing down of people in the street anymore. People are just basically resigned to give up and stay inside the the TN n protests have been completely squashed, and it was, I guess, calm as Columas could be, considering that there were still plenty of like tanks and martial law in the area and on shooing on Avenue, like a column of, I think, eight tanks or a few, a few tanks, I'm not sure how many there were gathered into a line and started going down the avenue and then just out of nowhere.

This one guy tankman steps out of nowhere and just stands in front of the lead tank and eventually the tank just comes to a stop, and I guess there were. This is whole right in plain view of the Western journalists, of a lot of people who were watching this waiting for the tank to just run this guy down.

Or do U shoot him with the machine gun just basically treat him just like, like you know, ten thousand or more other people had been treated in the last day and to everyone's great surprise, it didn't happen.

Instead, the tank just tried to move yeah, so he stops the tanks he's motioning.

You know, like kind of get out of here, he's kind of sweeping his arm around and the you know this footage s is remarkable to look at. Even today the tank tries to go around him and, like you said, then the guy gets in its path. The tank stops again.

The tank goes to the left, they're doing this, just surreal, dance yeah of the tank moving and the guy moving in front of it and then finally, the tank stopped again cut its motor and the guy climbs up on top of the tank and starts yelling at the soldiers yeah one of the dudes in the tank pokes his little head out and they start talking and I say little head. I think he had a normal sizehead, but just from e the vandage point of the footage it lited the little head sure or who knows. Maybe he was a tiny headed person. It was smaller than normal. You can never say so.

They start yelling at each other and having in exchange, and the guy gets back down on the ground. Tankman does the tank starts this engine and he gets right back in front of Front of it again, and that is when that very famous photo from Charles Coal is snapped m of him just standing again with those shopping bags by his side, just as defiing as a human being's ever been, and I mean this is after ten Zand of his fellow Beijing Beijingers had been killed in the street, and this guy said this is enough. Like that's the thing to me, the guy said this is enough FRI'm, sick of this s.

You guys need to go that very clearly what the guy was saying, but the beautiful thing about Tankman. Is You can't hear what he said you can't you can't see his face nearly enough to even tell who he was there's no way anybody saw who this guy actually was at least not from like a camera or anything. So you also couldn't read his lips or anything. So it's left up to you and your imagination.

What this guy was saying and what he was doing and that actually comes through in the fact that China, right after this incident, broadcast it on TV, but they broadcast it as clear evidence of just how much restraint the Chinese military had shown in Beijing and how all of the casualties that had actually come out of. It were the fault in the on account of the these rebellious anticommunist uprisers and that th the military had really done a good job with us.

But it really kind of underlines, like you, can put into Tankman what you want, but far and away the vast majority of the world, because that Charles Col photo quickly got out will explain how, in a second, the vast majority of the world was inspired by this guy, showing Rto. That's how they took it that this guy was saying enough. You can do what you want to me, but I represent the real true feeling of the people abaging of the people of China, of all freedom, loving people in the world.

I represent how they feel about you in that tank and all the people who sent you here right now.

Yeah it S, it was remarkable.

So Charles cold takes this picture.

He is seen by some security officials that are on a roof top across the street, and he knows this and he's like they're going to come for my camera for sure, so he very smartly POPs. This roll of film outand hides it in the water tank of his toilet and his bathroom. Yes, I wilh show US stird it.

Oh, I don't know, I think, can you imagine, I think the keyster would be and sought out sooner than the toilet tank. I guesser poerbly right.

The first thing they did was probably bend him over and see what he had.

So they did come and they did compensate his camera and they confiscated a roll of film, but it was from the day before and he came back the next day and that that Brola film was still in the toilet, tank yeah got it or otherwise. The world may have never seen this image yeah.


I don't know that. That's necessarily true because there's that video footage of it Thwell Itwas the whole thing true and did we say also that he have we gotten to the part where he's hustled off who Col Tankman?

Oh No, okay! Well, I just spoiled it so I mean there is the video of it but yeah that that that photo, that the world got to see because of Charles colls, quick thinking, thatthat became like the symbol of you, know the TNAMAN Square uprising like Tankman, just standing defiantly.

I wonder, if do you know the the release sdate of the video footage?

No, I don't. I know that stuff leaked out pretty quick. I imagine that everybody was kind of like Ho Ham, I'm just leaving Beijing for no good reason. I'm a Western journalist just traveling to Shanghai to fly back to London for no good reason. You don't need to search me for anything and just got out of there as fast as they could.

I just wonder if they released the footage after the photo had become released.

I'm not sure. I know that there are a lot of journalists watching that at the time, including just you know, text journalist when writers - I guess you'd call them that that Thay were witnessing this and writing about it and memorizing and documenting it, and the fact that they were left alive.

Let this idea get out because it we'll see the Chinese government like sqashed a memory of this. This is a lot of bere's a lot of resemblance to to the Tulsa race massacre yeah.

You know it just follows a lot of the same key points, but to some up tankman heard of to wrap up his story after this. This, like you, said this weird dance goes on for a little while and he's just standing there and there's they're in a standoffit'e between him and the tank, the guy runs. It comes up on his bike and you could tell it he's jus kind of like you, okay, Gan need to get out of here. This is not going to go well for you and that kind of cues up a couple of other guys who run into the frame of this video footage and just grab Tankman and Hustle him away and there's some debate over who those people were and what became of Tankman some witnesses say. Well, they were clearly you know, members of the Communist Party, you know secret police and he was taken away and executed, but if you watch the footage to me these are these are people who are getting him out of there to help him.

That's how I wult Ov looke like to me yeah yeah, so they think the fact that the Chinese government did not parade this guy around hold a public trial and probably a public execution. To make an example out of him and the fact that no one has any idea what his name was and no one's ever said it was. This guy definitively makes people think that he is still alive and hadn't told anybody that he made it out of there alive. Basically yeah. I really wonder I mean there have been various accounts over the years of who they think it was.

Some people have even named individuals.

Some people have said that Kno he was executed. Some people said no, he wasn't some people said he was incarcerated, never to be heard from again and we just there's really no way of knowing it is interesting to read, though, all the accounts of what people think might have happened.

Yeah I like to go with that. He was absorbed by a crowd and disappeared like Enli to live, not disappear. Like disappeared, like from the government's radar yeah, it's like at the end of victory, the Great World War, two soccer movie - Oh, I never saw that one well, should I spoil it sure I think igain of did they win all right? If you want to see this movie, Don't listen to this people, okay, but the whole deal is: is they stage the allies prisoners of war stage? The soccer match against Germany, but the real plan is that they are to escape during a tunnel in the locker room ohno, this rag tag, team of soccer players that the prisoners assemble featuring solbesters alone is the lone American in goal, and they think that they can win the soccer game at half time, so they don't escape.

They decide to not go and to play that soccer match what and they win, and it's amazing and the stadium is field is stormed and they are absorbed by the crowd and you see images of them getting hustled off and having like street clothes, put on them over their soccer uniforms right and that's the end of the movie. This was great, so they were very fortunate that the crowd treated them that way, but they didn't know that that was going to happen.

No, they, then that was one of the dumbest decisions ever made by a group of human beings in the world to try and win a soccer game instead of this game, because it doesn't matter the soccer game doesn't matter O, but it does seeping to freedom that matters that was so dumb.

Such a good movie man s that, based on a real life, true story.

You know, I have no idea it'Si, don't think so.

It has to be ive hope so, okay, so anyway, we don't know what became of Tankman but the the his his image.

They think, or they say actually inspired a lot of those protests in Eastern Europe that ID meane the Communist Party so nervous for a while chuck that they actually inspired those protesters to go all the way and actually led to the downfall of the USSR.

What he did not lead to the downfall of was the Chinese Communist Party because they won.

They went as far as they needed to go to make sure that they held on to power like they went far beyond like any reasonable point and engaged in not civil war. A massacre of their own people just to hold on to power and keep things the way that they were, but one thing that really changed that directly came out of this June. One thousand nine hundred and eighty nine popular uprising was a shift toward economic reform that they had said. Okay, you people, you want some economic reform. You want a a bigger shot at life. You want more, you want to make more money, you want. You know, luxury brands, build malls and open up stores here, we'll give you that and they did, they opened up China to foreign investment, and I mean we all know how that story went yeah.

This rise of China that we're seeing now and have been seeing for the last couple decades directly came from the June onethousand nine hundred and eighty nine uprising and the decision for the government to say: Okay will open up some economic reform yeah and, in the end, like we said you know up to and perhaps more than ten thousand people murdered at least sixteen hundred people imprisoned.

I got. I think it was much more than that.

Oh yeah, but that's from a human rights group called the the Di Hua Foundation and you know imprisoned, for you know, crimes against the government, reeducation camps, life sentences, supposedly in two thousand and sixteen a a man was supposedly the very last prisoner from the Tianeman massacre to be released twenty seven years later. But who knows the truth and a lot? I mean a lot of public executions like making examples out of people scaring the the Jesus out of the population.

Saying like this is: Why happens? Look what happens if you're a if you're anti government, but again they were, they were doing it in a way saying like there was just a few people who were really against the government. We know you would never do this and it really had this huge chilling effect on that, and so they said will give you economic reform. Do not ever ask for political reform again, because this is what happens when you do war an charge, we're keeping things the way they are, but we'll make it so you can have more money or whatever, and now China is basically like much wealther. There's a huge middle class than there was before, but there's also a tremendous amount of inequality that wasn't there before, but you can also say. On the other hand, everybody was equally poor.

Now, there's a lot less people who aren't poor and even a lot of the poorer people are way better off than they were, but they still live under one of the most repressive regimes in the world, and that was the that was the tradeoff. That was the bargain that was made yeah, and you know what there's one thing that I think I really learned from this, and it was that you have to nip corruption in the bud before it takes true rout, because if you let your government and your leaders get away with corruption they're going to try to get away with a little more and a little more in a little more and then before you know it. Corruption is so entrenched in your government and in your society that the people who are in charge have so much to answer for have so much that they've done that they would not want people to know about that. They can't ever afford to let go power, and so they will do anything to hold on a power, including murder, their own people who try to take them out of power, and I mean this happened in China, but if it get, if it reaches that point, you could make a pretty good case that this could happen anywhere.

Jur, that's what I took from it.

You cannot as a society, you cannot as a a political group of citizens, a citizenry put up with corruption, no matter how big or House small in your leaders in your government, you can't do it yeah, it's man. What a time but, like you said, it's a cautionary tale forever agreed.

Oh One more thing chuck they showed some. They showed a picture of Tankman to some kids from Beijing University when that documentary is made in two thousand and six and either either they pretended they didn't know who it was or they legit did not know what they were looking at yeah. It looked real to me, man yeah, but you could also make the case like that. This is such a taboo subject that, like you, would pretend on camera, to some Western journalists with government mindor SOM right next to them, or that now idea what it was. Yeah Yeah.

Well, that's TNIMAN SQUARE! Now you know, and if you want to know more about it, there's a lot to read about it all over the Internet. Thankfully, as long as you live outside of China, yes, BET's say all over one internet right and since Chuck said one internetit's time for a listener mail.

This is which one should I read here.

So you know at. Let me read this. This is a this one. Just came in this was a listener. Male prediction then puts jared from sub from subway to shame. Did you read this one?

No, I don't know which one that is well just sit back then and hold on your seats. Okay, Hey guys, my family and I live in Oregon have been in lockddown for the past ten weeks.

My husband is a firefighter o paramedic, so we are really staying home, so we can minimize a risk of spreading the virus because he has so much exposure. Du to his job, I am a substitute teacher and I'm not work right now, but I'm homeschooling our kids age, two six and eight we ere very lucky. My husband's job is essential, though, because so we're not in the position that so many Americans are in with losing both of our jobs and when I'm not homeschooling, I get to listen to as much stuff. He should know as possible.

So onto the reason. I'm writing this. I was listening to the globe of death episode from December two thousand and seventeen, and I went back and listen to this. In fact, maybe we should play this one again anra.

Well, let me just read this we'll see if we need to we'll play the entire episode in the solicener mail now just the Listener Mail, oh Gotcho, okay, the listener! Male on this episode was really eerie.

It's a woman who predicts the next global outbreak will be a FLEU pandemic and it calls on the government for cutting CDC funding to prepare for an event like this.

It's very strange to be listening to this lister male in the situation after being in quarantine and O, you guys love it when your show predicts events, so I thought I would throw this out there thanks a you. Do all that you do to keep me sane and that I'm able to hear other grownups talking about interesting talk topics. My kids are always asking what I'm laughing at and then ask to hear what Josh and Chucker saying. Thank you guys, that is from Tiffany Hallock, and shall we play a portion of that yeah? We should all right. Well, here's the listener mal from two thousand and seventeen and see if this is sounds a little eerie to you.

I'm GOINTA call this flu epidemic okayhey, guys a'm a masters, a public health, candidate and Atlanta at Emery Nice, and we spend a good amount of time discussing the flu.

I remember Yo Menching, the Spanish flu and wanterd of such an epidemic could happen again. Bad News is, it can, and it probably will, according to public hell scholars that is, the culprit is our meat industry, which keeps an overbundance of fowl and pigs in tight unsanitary quarters.

Because of the way this industry is growing and some might argue due to its like a regulation.

These unsafe conditions lend to the rapid mutation of the virus discoupled with the ever decreasing CDC budget, makes it harder and harder for vaccine scientists to create accurate vaccines. On top of all that, the fluis scene is a low threat by most o our society, rendering us ill equipped and underprepared.

Most people are scared of Tibola or other difficult tcatch viruses. However, influenza is a rapidly mutating and highly aggressive virus. It is easily transmittable and is right here on our doorstep.

Scientists predict the flue might be the next most deadly epidemic. We are not careful.

My recommendation to our Congress. People stop cutting the CDC budget. Provinchan is key, and I wull probably sound like a quack, not to me for real, but just wanted to spread a little knowledge and say hey to my favorite podcasters, thanks for putting on such amazing show, and that is from Jasmine wow.

That was pretty eerie. I turned out to be Dr Debrd Berkes herself.

Well thanks dude, that was a that was a good listener, mal and that was from tiffany. You said Yeah that was from tiffany thanks for that one tiffany thinks good catch and thanks for litting USS know that you guys are doing. Okay, hang in there with the homeschooling and hang ing there, everybody who, whose job was not essential who's on furlough or beating up the unemployment office website, hang in there everybody, because things are going to get better, and we will be here the whole time to okay, that's right! Okay, if you want to get in touch with this in the meantime to say, Hig or whatever. Well, you can do a via email. How about that wrap it up, spank it on the bottom and send it off two stuffd podcast at I heart, radiocom stuff. You should know is a production of ihart radios. HOUSESTUFF works for more podcast for my heart radio, because it the IHAT radio, a apple podcast or wherever you listen to your favorite, shows

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