WikiLeaks: Tiananmen Tank Man was just ‘short-sighted grandpa’


Political Correspondent

A 1989 trip to Jingkelong may have turned fatal for Liu, now an unwitting national icon

BEIJING (Agencies) – US embassy cables from 1989 have revealed that the man famously pictured blocking a tank during democracy demonstrations in Tiananmen Square was mistakenly trying to hail a bus.

In a revelation likely to rewrite history, diplomatic transcripts published by the WikiLeaks website reveal that the iconic ‘Tank Man,’ seen standing off a column of Chinese Type 59 tanks the morning after the June 4 incident, was in fact 76-year-old Beijing resident and ardent Communist Liu Yong.

Dressed in a white shirt, 1940s-style hat and clutching two bags, Liu apparently set off from his nearby Qianmen home that morning with the intention of doing some shopping.

Wife Chen Na told local activists, who later informed US diplomats, that Liu “was confused perhaps in the head, but urged himself to buy some items for our children. He heard many explosions and thought it was New Year.”

Classified transcripts from the tank commander’s unit, shown to a diplomatic source, conclude that Liu mistook the tank for bus 224 and stood in front to hail it.

According to the transcript, the commander, a member of the Hebei Province No. 24 Army Group, then asked, “Grandfather! What are you doing? We have an important national mission. Please remove yourself from the people’s tank.”

Liu reportedly explained he had emptied his wallet on dumplings and Spring Festival party favors and had only just enough to return home.

“New Year? Please, come aboard, Grandfather, and we will deliver you home,” the documents conclude.

Despite his apparent innocence of state sedition, however, Liu’s fate is still unknown.

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  • Delajello

    BullCrap! Watch the video and tell me again that it’s an old man jumping up and down the tank!

  • Pingback: Number One search engine shows the happy side of China | China Daily Show()

  • huijia

    I just love this website…I also love the fact that some people writing comments believe those news.

    makes you wonder about the so called free-thinking of western people

    • Anonymous

      Isn’t this website a testimony to the free-thinking of western people though?

      • Ask anyone in the “West”, even around Asia, and most will tell you the version propagated by Western news sources. The BBC was a major player in this and yet it admitted later that it gave a “wrong impression” of the Tiananmen incident. It’s admission however, was extremely muted, I only came across it recently.

        That MOST can be misled by the news sources which kept building on one another’s tall tales is a telling indication that “free” can also be “misled”. One is not free if misled taking up the agenda of others. That is virtual enslavement.

        Now I don’t know what the deal is with this story about the Tank Man, I can’t make a decision about it’s correctness atm, so I will leave by opinion on it open for now. However, Wikileaks has supportive statements that even US diplomats, who are a cautious against saying positive about a Communist government, revealed that there was no massacre and Western eyewitnesses describe police and army who were behaving within reason (considering the scale of the protest, there must have been some strong force used).

        • Waxon

          “Tiananmen Square Massacre” is a misnomer only in the sense that most of the killings actually took place in other parts of the city. I
          quote from the article in Japan Times by Gregory Clark which was selectively quoted by china Daily to prove it’s a media myth: “much that happened elsewhere in Beijing that night was ugly…I
          n the panicky fighting afterward, hundreds, maybe even thousands, of
          civilians and students were killed”. He adds that this was more a “riot”
          than a massacre but notes, crucially, that “the real story… was [not
          the students but] the uprising of the civilian masses against a regime
          whose gray hand of corruption, oppression and incompetence ever since
          the Cultural Revolution days of the late 1960s had reduced an entire
          population to simmering resentment.To summarize, there was a massacre; it may not have happened in the center of town.Semantics aside, ringleaders
          were needlessly executed… even in Shanghai where Jiang Zemin “sent in
          the grannies” to wail and kowtow until the students couldn’t take it any
          longer… and security crackdowns followed. We can accept that 20 years
          ago, there was far less access and more distortion of some factual
          aspects in China – such as images of Chinese soldiers “strung up and
          burned to a crisp”, which I’ve never seen – but 22 years later, has
          there been any accountability or reckoning from the government other than rare, crackpot
          defenses? No, there hasn’t. Beijing say the issue is “closed.”By the way, this story is clearly satire.

  • Honestyprevails


    So, this is the tank issue, and not the gunning down of Chinese citizens issue?

    Ok. Whoever wrote the article never watched the video.
    10000000% certain.

    • Summermann007

      10000000% ertain that you just sit front the laptop and watch some vedios and then you think that you know the world .
      hihihi  :-) 
      god bless u

  • Funny one, it makes me think of the Chinese I know.

  • Ethan Stepic

    then why did he climb up on the tank and speak to the tank driver?

  • pfcwms

    This tongue-in-cheek piece deserves to be reprinted in The Onion or Charlie Hebdo.