The images are seared into popular memory, at least outside China, as a symbol of courage and defiance: Tanks leaving Beijing’s historic Tiananmen Square approach a lone man who holds his ground, blocking their withdrawal following a bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protesters.
Thirty-one years later the man’s identity and fate remain a mystery and the massacre has been all but scrubbed from history books and the internet inside the country.
But the reverberations from those events helped to shape today’s China into a security state in which staging such a demonstration would be nearly impossible.
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