By WANG WEI
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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