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The story of the Tank Man photo by its photographer (jeffwidener.com)
658 points by js2 3 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 138 comments

Amazing that the Chinese government in power today is the same as the one that deployed the tanks in that photograph to mow down its own citizens. Even more amazing that American celebrities such as LeBron James and John Cena see it fit to parrot that same government's propaganda for the sake of dollars. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I'd live to see something like it. The word "pathetic" falls utterly short in describing it.

We have a misconception that a government that mistreats it's people can be overthrown. Most "revolutions" require extensive military and economic support from foreign military powers.

The American Revolution is a great example of this. Americans tell ourselves we were led by the Boston Tea Party, the Declaration of Independence, and George Washington to obtaining our freedom from the British. The truth is we likely would not have succeeded without the military and economic support of major world powers France and Spain at the time.

The Chinese people have received no foreign support for throwing out the CCP dictators. The West even returned Hong Kong freely. Now Hong Kong is being oppressed and it's people tortured and murdered. And greedy American pop culture figures like LeBron James support totalitarian regimes against freedom fighters. I stopped watching the NBA at that point, and will never take seriously LeBron's support for BLM. He only does what is convenient for him.

Completely agree. I will never look at LeBron the same way ever again. I mean I always knew he was a self-centered celebrity like the rest of them. But I never considered that he or any other American celebrity would stoop that low. It's one thing for a cohort of secret corporate executives to edit a film for a Chinese release. That in itself is a disaster but feels somehow different. It's completely another thing for a celebrity to get on the air and make statements that directly capitulate to the CCP in broad daylight. It's the kind of thing that makes me want to pinch myself. Makes me feel like I live in a failed timeline in some dystopian sci-fi movie.

Equally the same or equally different with the the govt that shoot its own anti war citizen in 70's. The institution is the same. But the approach handling public protest is different compare to that era.

Tank man is popular today because somebody noticed duckduckgo/bing were censoring search results

This was raised on HN [0] and immediately flagged by "long standing boring users of the site" [1]

There was then another story about the Tank Man photo, which was marked as "dupe", despite never having been posted before

As of now (1919 GMT) the original DDG bug hasn't been fixed

[0] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27394925

[1] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27397406

[2] https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=27395028

Today (June 4th) is also the anniversary of the Tiananmen protest. In China most people who knew about the incident would often refer to it as liùsì (or lo-sik), which is 'Six Four' in Mandarin/Cantonese (六四).

Glad to see it gaining traction on HN. Appearantly this year CCP is working hard to erase the past too.

- https://www.npr.org/2021/06/03/1002772735/china-forbids-publ...

- https://news.yahoo.com/arrests-made-hong-kong-during-2139547...

- https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/may/28/hong-kong-bans...

This comment was flagged, it's been unflagged.

It's quite amusing really. I've spent too long reading the reddit share conspiracy nuts to imagine dozens of bot farms attacking such trivial comments on such inconsequential sites as HN (which was about the only https site I could actually load last time I was in China) to suppress knowledge of Tiannaman Square amongst English speaking geeks (rather than the far more mundane excuse that people don't like meta threads)

Looks like both DDG and Bing are showing results for "tank man" now. I do wonder what the reason for the issue was; while I'm sure many people would like to believe it's some nefarious China-directed global suppression, I would guess the explanation is far more mundane.

The results they're showing are not of the famous picture of Tiananmen Square's "tank man" incident, however. Today is the 32nd anniversary of the violent suppression by the Chinese government of that protest.

DDG, at the time of this comment, isn't showing results for the man standing in front of the tanks for tank man. Moderate search shows generic military hardware photos. Safe search: off shows no results.

6th, 7th and 14th result in image search for me.

I have him at 7th and 9th with safe search off now.

yeah fine there's a thing about the search engines and the pic, that's an ongoing/current story. We don't need twenty posts about the tank man pic itself or the stories behind it that are either on here already/widely known/not news at all!

Maybe if the first story hadn't been flagged in minutes, and the second story hadn't been given a "dupe" tag despite it not being a dupe and there being no un-flagged stories about tank man for months, there wouldn't have been such an Streislanding.

There are a few different photographers who managed to get a picture of Tank Man from different vantage points.[0] There's also a little known street view angle which, IMHO, is even more profound.[1]

[0]https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/behind-the-scenes-... [1]https://lens.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/04/behind-the-scenes-...

To make it justice has to be seen this way: https://i.imgur.com/bGP9oKf.jpg

It's such a powerful / stark image.

After the horrors that occurred , one man who looks like he was going about their day stands in front of a column of tanks. For a little while he stops an oppressive the state, or at least a small bit of it ... and then like a lot of people involved vanishes and we just don't know.

It’s all the more impressive that he did this after a night of the army shooting, killing and grinding bodies with tanks and APCs.

I think that's what makes it all the more poignant, there's still hope even after such horrible events.

It's interesting to know how Jeff's innocuous camera didn't have autofocus at the time, not to mention how he was doing a lot of the ISO-related math when looking to take the shot.

I've done manual black-and-white photography before with older cameras before, but I take pictures with my smartphone so freely these days it becomes hard to conceptualize the amount of work Jeff had to do.

With street photography, the philosophy is "f8 and be there." Focus doesn't matter with a narrow enough aperture.

For leisure walks with wide/normal lenses <50mm, sure. For documentary work with an 800mm, with only ~10ft of depth of field from a couple hundreds of feet away [1], focus still matters.

[1] https://www.dofmaster.com/dofjs.html

Thanks for sharing. I figured that f11, which Jeff used, would provide a deeper depth of field, but it's not as deep as I had imagined.

Edit: Turns out the photo was taken a half mile away, so it's still rather forgiving in regards to focus.

You can definitely see how deep the DoF was in the shots in the article; it makes sense that Widener was more concerned about the shutter speed than the focus. I was just arguing that the zone/hyperfocal focus techniques just wouldn't be very useful here, considering he's far enough away and using an SLR. Close quarters with a manual rangefinder and "f8 and be there" would suffice.

It's astounding how difficult photography must have been back then. Today if you're trying to learn with a digital SLR you can take pictures and change aperture/focus/exposure and see the result and gain an understanding of how changing them impacts the picture.

Back then you had to take an entire roll of pictures and it'd be a long time until you could see if you were "off".

Equivalent is like the old days of punch-card programming. You'd better hope you didn't have any bugs because you wouldn't find out until much later when your job ran.

It wasn’t really that bad. It didn’t take much practice to get reasonably good results. Built-in camera metering worked well, and you got a feel for aperture vs. depth of field (sometimes that’s even marked on the lens). If you were trying for a special effect you might have to do an experimental roll, but ordinary circumstances typically “just worked”.

Punch cards, on the other hand, really were that bad. :)

The Nikon F3 he used has automatic metering so I don't think he had to do any ISO-related math.

And manual focus with its great split prism viewfinder isn't that hard, although obviously more challenging than autofocus.

His F3 gets broken the day before the Big Photo and he was shooting with a manual back-up lens, according to the blog post.

He used another FE2, which also had auto metering. Neither the F3 nor FE2 have auto-focus.

Oh I must have missed that, my bad.

I prefer a digital camera with the related speed, aperture, iso settings in physical button form. I have an old Fuji x100T that I like to use.

It's not so much just getting the math right as much as what you're giving and taking with each setting. Your camera makes the decision about what the right math is, but there's a lot of possible 'right' settings depending on the situation.

The X100T is old? So, apparently, am I. :).

I was about to post the same, lol. I use one as a backup camera, and was thinking of gifting it to my daughter but felt it was too new lol.

6 years old in gadget years is like 60 I think ;)

If we were in the age of film it would still be nearly brand new :D

What an incredible story this is, an absolute must read for all.

“This guy is going to screw up my composition”.

Of his failing flash, and lens situation: I could just imagine Robert Capa and Larry Burroughs chuckling down from heaven over a couple of cold beers.

Let's remember Capa's most famous shots of D day landings were botched by incompetent developing and only a few frames were usable. (I think somebody else blew the developing, not Capa but I'm not 100% sure)

It's remarkable to imagine how different the world might have been if the Tiananmen uprising had succeeded. Democracy with Chinese characteristics, or whatever. A true ideological and moral competitor to the West.

I believe China will become more democratic within a decade.

As China becomes wealthier, sustained growth will become more challenging. The low-hanging fruit of state-directed investments like infrastructure and manufacturing will have been plucked, and the country will need private capital and human capital formation for continued growth. Private capital and human capital have a tendency to migrate to the most hospitable locations, which are modern democratic nations -- places with independent courts that respect human rights and property rights; with independent media that allow the free discussion of interests, events, ethics, and information; and with governments that are responsive and accountable to the population's interests through elections. If China is seriously committed to growth (which appears to be the case), they will necessarily become more democratic.

So why do I think the transformation will happen within a decade? Not many authoritarian nations exceed their current GDP/capita (except for oil rich nations), so the transformation will need to happen soon to maintain growth.

Is there any good reason to think that the Tiananmen uprising participants, had they gotten power, would actually have brought about democracy? Given what had happened during the Cultural Revolution, I can understand why some Chinese would be uneasy about militant students. To actually shift a society to democracy may require much more than just a revolution led by a small vanguard. If society as a whole is not ready, such revolutions might tend to just lead to a new, worse dictatorship taking power. And this may be the case regardless of whatever genuinely good intentions the more humane revolutionary leaders might have - in practice, they may be just purged and replaced by brutal opportunists if the revolution succeeds.

I also wish for a more liberal China, I am just trying to explore some of the complexities of such events. To be fair, if by "if the Tiananmen uprising had succeeded", you mean "if the Tiananmen uprising had made China democratic", then some of my points do not make sense. It is just that, based on my reading about history, I know that successful revolutions often lead to outcomes that are very different from what idealists who root for those revolutions have in mind.

I think there's reason to wonder about the outcome of any revolution. Proclaimed goals sometimes are just rhetoric and something else happens.

But I think it is fair to take the student's and those they were inspired by at their word and theorize that China might have been 'more democratic' had the movement been embraced.

But we'll never know for sure.

I'm not sure the "militant students" framing is very fair here, but it's otherwise a good point - we saw in the Arab Spring that the end result wasn't really democracy, and it's a good question which way China might've gone.

>I'm not sure the "militant students" framing is very fair here

You may want to re-read the article. There's at least one passage of a group of the protestors approaching a surrendering soldier with pipes, rocks, and other weapons. The reporter continues, "surely the man would be killed. There was nothing I could do to help him in the chaos."

Perhaps the argument here is that the guy got what he deserved, but I think if you want to argue that it's okay to kill someone who's surrendering, you might be fairly classified as militant.

I think there is a difference between militant “Hongweibings” and a street lynching. One is ongoing and organized with tacit approval from the highest ranks, the other an ad-hoc mob phenomenon.

Indeed. And history shows that often the problem isn’t quite the first revolution, inspired by democratic values, but a subsequent revolution that takes advantage of the temporary power vacuum and institutes a dictatorship. One example is the October (Bolshevik) Revolution in Russia, which overthrew the nascent democracy that had been instituted earlier that year in the February Revolution. Another example is the Islamic Revolution in Iran after Khomeini returned from exile, which quickly wiped out the varied mix of Communists and other secular political forces that had overthrown the Shah.

Even the first, democratic-inspired revolution can look pretty dangerous in retrospect. I am sympathetic to many ideals of May ’68, yet at the same time I feel like Western Europe dodged a bullet, because the subsequent regime could have turned out very badly.

There were already existing models for democracy that students and those fighting for self representation could see.

A better question might be; will China ever have self determination? Or will it always be a self selected leader with a “5 year plan”

> self selected leader

I don't think that this is an accurate description of the process for selecting the PRC's General Secretary.

The college students (cultural revolution) were useful idiots egged on by ccp leadership. And they were absolutely authoritarian btw, not at all democratic, so its a difficult comparison.

More specifically Mao than the entire CCP leadership. The cultural revolution was an attempted coup by Mao to regain power after he was sidelined by his disastrous economic policies. It also really colored the viewpoints of the post Mao CCP leadership on populist movements. Specifically, Deng who was in charge during 1989 probably saw echos of the same students that exiled him into the countryside and crippled his son now marching again in Tiananmen square.

Not sure why the downvotes. Revolutionaries actually have a terrible track record at creating democratic governments. Russia got Communism at the beginning of the 20th century and an oligarchy at the end of it. More recently Egypt got religious fundamentalists. Revolutionaries having legitimate reasons to protest isn't a guarantee of a good outcome.

China in our current timeline is also a true ideological and moral competitor to the west.

It's hard to consider them a moral competitor when they are an authoritarian regime in the midst of committing genocide...

This is a difference between peers and competitors. There are countries in Europe, the Antipodes, or Japan that are peers in the sense of having similar (or in some respects superior) and compatible moral systems. A competitor is a different and perhaps incompatible system that is nevertheless striving with ours.

What confused me about your comment is what you mean by 'striving.'

If our morals are competing, I take that as we are trying to win in the domain of morality, not that the domain of morality is a piece of the competition in the domain of global mind share

I see the US and most Western countries as more individualist, liberal, democracies. China is more of an authoritarian, collectivist, technocrat model.

These models reflect moral as well as political beliefs. The models are also not compatible - meaning we can't be both and the more of one the less there is of the other. This is the sense in which we have conflicting views and are striving against one another to promote our ideology.

> not that the domain of morality is a piece of the competition in the domain of global mind share

Haven't the 'best morals' always have been those with the most mindshare ?

The best morals are the ones that not only spread, but also persist. Morals that preserve and promote trust and cooperation tend to win in the long run.

Isn't that exactly what would make a country a moral competitor?

I've always thought of 'moral competitor's as someone who challenges another to improve their morals. If that isn't what was meant in the parent comment, then I am wrong.

I understood 'moral competitor' to mean a country that has a different set of values, and who we are competing against for acceptance in the global community.

Just because you don't like their morality doesn't mean it's not popular. I also dislike it but denying that they are geopolitically competitive would simply be a refusal to face an unpleasant fact.

Is authoritarianism popular? Is genocide popular? I think your confusing to he popularity of China's money and facade with the popularity of their morals.

Both are popular.

Doubtful, otherwise China wouldn't be hiding their morals with propaganda like: "Everything in XinXiang is fine!" and "COVID originated in the US or Italy!!".

If their morals were popular that wouldn't have to constantly lie about them.

I think you're treating popularity as synonymous with goodness. I'm suggesting to you that actually there are a lot of assholes in the world who approve of authoritarian behavior and even genocide, and even derive enjoyment from deceiving and antagonizing people. Observing the existence of such attitudes isn't an endorsement of them.

It wasn't the PRC who killed all those Iraqis.

It's true. They haven't killed most people who've died. In fact, the CCP has killed less than 1% of all humans currently dead.

Praise China!

People replying to this comment: beware of Fundamental Attribution Error when trying to differentiate when your country is responsible for deaths versus when another country is.

ah whataboutism at is finest.


That puts them on even footing with the “moral competitors” that are left to compare to

I think Germany and France are good moral competitors, along with a good deal of Europe. Much better moral competitors than China for sure.

Interesting, so I understand you are looking at comparisons between this snapshot in time.

For me it is not separable from their pasts because those nations would not have stability or the flexibility to make moral choices if they didnt successfully do immoral things to people they didnt like until they were either eradicated or everyone else finally got the memo to leave.

Although it is uncomfortable to be aware of and powerless, there just isn’t a history of intervention to think there will be one with China, or more accurately there isnt a history to suggest that this particular problem wont solve itself.

It's not just 'now'. I think there is a reasonable time window to apply: the one that most informs how we can anticipate one to act in the future. While France/Germany/Europe has done wrong in the past, I don't think anyone is reasonably concerned about them committing genocide or starting a war.

Secondly, I have to disagree that present day Europe benefits from past imperialism. Pre-imperialist UK and France were doing just fine. In fact, they were doing so well, they decided they could be doing even better by going out and taking over more of the world. It doesn't make sense to me to attribute their modern day successes to their imperialist past. Imperialism isn't on the table unless you're already doing great relative to the rest of the world. I think the US is a perfect example of that actually. We were arguably at our peak globally well before we began military interventions elsewhere in the world.

I hope you are trolling because Gulf wars, Bosnian War, Gitmo are few of the medals earned by Western democracies.

I don't consider the US 'the west', but if you want to pick favorites based on body count, I'd be willing to bet China still loses given the red army and the great famine that birthed it's current dictatorship.

If you're counting deaths caused by unintended consequences of poor policy, one could argue that the west also is to blame for tragedies like the Great Famine because the policies that caused it were born from reactions to Western hegemony from the previous centuries.

Then you have to blame the countries themselves for allowing western hegemony. Poor policies are to blame for a small population of foreign actors being able to wield so much power over those regions.

I think we have to judge a thing on its actions, or the arguments get rather circular.

There is no Qing emperor to blame anymore for allowing China to stagnate and losing the Opium Wars. Meanwhile, the same governments who used forced projection to coerce China into allowing the import of Opium are continuing to abuse force projection to this day.

They are only the same governments insofar as there have been no total revolutions. The people, laws, morals, and even constitution in the UK are different today than during the opium wars. Probably as much so as the CCP differs from the Qing.

The governments may have changed to a certain degree but not when it comes to geopolitics. It took CCP two years to figure out that bad agricultural science was bad. How many wars will it take for Americans to factor the impact of asymmetric warfare on residents into their calculus of whether to go to war?

Wait… are you saying it’s the colonized indigenous peoples fault that they were exploited and oppressed by their oppressors?

No, I'm saying the great famine is no more Britain's fault than the opium wars are the Chinese people's fault.

The only thing we did wrong in Bosnia was not stopping the genocide sooner.

> Democracy with Chinese characteristics

Isn't that just Taiwan?

A Tiawan without the constant fear of being steam rolled by communist china. Tiawan with the industrial economic and military power of communist china, a Taiwan with the largest emerging market in the world. Imagine A world without a dictatorial military expansionist Communist China looking to dominate The South China sea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Territorial_disputes_in_the_So...

Or taking over their smaller neighbors like, Tibet, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Annexation_of_Tibet_by_the_Peo...

Or crushing political descent in Hong Kong. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Police_misconduct_allegations_...

A China not trying to push their boarder with India, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sino-Indian_border_dispute#Bou...

or indulging and supporting the sociopathic regime in North Korea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/China%E2%80%93North_Korea_rela...

A China that that doesn't disappear a religious leader of one of the worlds largest religions https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/11th_Panchen_Lama_controversy

and force the another to live in exile and demand that said religions leader reincarnation be aproved by the Chinese communist party https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/14th_Dalai_Lama#Exile_to_India https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Succession_of_the_14th_Dalai_L...

Or participating in a mass genocide of their people https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghur_genocide

Imagine a china the wasn't evil but tolerated because corperations can there outsource for cheaper manufacturing

Taiwan democracy started in 1990. Before that it is in martial law dictatorships. The govt ruled with terror. You can search "white terror". The govt used to suppressed the information too.

Looking at how it turns out in Russia and middle east post-Arab Spring, I heavily doubt it.

> Looking at how it turns out in Russia and middle east post-Arab Spring, I heavily doubt it

We don't have a good model for predicting the outcomes of revolutions ex ante. But if we're calling to the stage Russia and the Arab Spring, we should also make honorary mention of the United States, Taiwan, Europe, Japan and India.

India is probably the best comparison to China due to their similar population and level of development post independence in 1950. It's also used on Chinese forums as an example of why China dodged a bullet with democracy.

With democracies i feel its mainly a long game instead of a short term one. I also think under an authoritarian regime u can get everything done forcefully, whereas under a democracy coz u need to get everyone board which may be slow or sometimes impossible and everything becomes political and progress slows down.

Democracy with 1 billion people? Challenging. Just look at India and it's problems.

It is not about the count of people, it is about the diversity that creates problems. 1B people with same religious, ethnic background would do well. Compare that to 1B with hundreds of languages, tens of castes, and at least 10 religions on the other hand are bound to face problems.

It could actually be argued that India has no business being a one country, should have been a union of countries a la the EU.

I mean the us has 350M, what makes it categorically easier in a factor of 5, versus, say, Venezuela, which has a factor of 5 less than the us and is a failed state?

All government is 'challenging'.

It's challenging in the US with a lot less but still the best system we know of

It is better in other countries where there are more than 2 parties who have a chance of getting to power. A coalition government is better than the winner-takes-it-all system.

The two party system creates an us vs them mentality where both are equally bad on most things but there is no real choice for the voters.

I largely agree. It's certainly harder to game a three+ party system into whatever the heck has happened in the US in the past 40 years.

Most people seem to take this as an accolade of democracy, but to me it seems to say a lot about government: that the best form we have doesn't work very well.

aside from a benevolent dictator

> Democracy

It’s the least bad system we have.

It produces average case results in efficiency the most of the time. Other systems produce the best and worst case results more often, in efficiency, specifically due to their lack of inclusivity. We know its better to have less cooks in the kitchen, you just better pray you have good cooks.

Socrates might've disagreed. I can see why mob rule gives the illusion of consent when manufactured consent is needed. It's simpler to not have popularity contests for corrupt officials and instead have randomly-assigned professional administrators.

Given that consent can be manufactured, I have a theory on where most of the truly smart people are, they are the ruling rich oligarchs. 'Democracy' is a charade to keep the mobs pacified and given them an illusion of electing the leaders they desire.

How is it then that scientists, engineers, and inventors rarely profit from their inventions while it's mostly the swindlers who do?

Perhaps it's the cleverest (in the negative connotation), most sociopathic, and those who've inherited it who are the oligarchs.

> It's remarkable to imagine how different the world might have been if the Tiananmen uprising had succeeded

Yeah, they might have brought Larry Summers and friends in as well, and had their economy devastated as well.

I love thoughts like this. To play devil’s advocate, how might it have impacted Cold War events down the road?

There’s a great book called “When the World Seemed New,” by Jeffrey Engel about the monumental world events which during George H.W. Bush’s presidency.

Tiananmen Square took place ~5 months before the fall of the Berlin Wall. One of the points made in the book (and other Cold War-related texts I have read, though pointedly in this one) suggested the events in China really gave the (East) Germans and Soviets pause on how to handle a rising protest movement. It’s still regarded as a bit of a miracle the Leipzig church demonstrations and the Wall falling occurred without bloodshed.

Would a peaceful resolution in China have changed the ultimate course of the Cold War? I don’t necessarily think so; Iron Curtain nations were already fraying. But it would have been very, very interesting if two major communist countries, nuclear powers fell in quick order in terms of economies and alliances.

Imagine caring about ideology and morals in the middle of a political, technological, and martial competition.

Just look across the straits at Taiwan.

I used to think that but its important to note what they wanted to do democratically: more communism.

The winning regime wanted to move away from many marxist ideas, and they did, with liberalization of the markets and private ownership. Although they retain the name “Communist Party” and they teach and exalt marxist ideals in their schools, they just teach that whatever the communist party is currently doing is marxist.

The protestors in 1989 saw and predicted this lack of accountability and wanted to move towards the promised land of communism that no country has ever done, the promise which keeps enamoring new young people in every generation.

The state said no and had also concluded those ideals don't make sense, and moved towards state capitalism which has been extremely successful with unprecedented growth for any country, but doubly true for one with such a large population.

We would likely have worse relations with a democratic actually communist china.

I have to disagree. Democracies are generally better at course correction over long time horizons. I think a communist democracy would likely do what capitalist democracies do: economically drift toward center.

Could be center like Vietnam, or shut in, destitute and hostile like North Korea, but most likely broken apart with some hostile regions like the Soviet Union

None of these are democracies, just greater pursuit of communism which is what the protestors wanted

North Korea and the Soviet Union don't qualify as democracies...

None of those examples are democracies, just greater pursuit of communism which is what the protestors wanted

The point I was aiming at was that the benefits of democracy outweigh the blights of communism over the long term. You can argue whether or not that is the case, but North Korea and the USSR aren't examples to the contrary.

Are there any examples that support your thoughts? A transition out of authoritarian single party communist rule to democratic [single or multi party] communist rule?

An example to support my thought would be a communist democracies becoming more capitalist over time. Unfortunately I believe communist regimes have been predominantly authoritarian, so I don't have any good examples. I believe there aren't any good counter examples either tho, so it's anyone's guess.

This is possibly the most Operation Condor thing I've ever seen on here, the idea that it would be bad for China to have democracy and a less authoritarian, more accountable government .. because it would be less capitalist? Needs a lot more evidence and moral support than fits in a hn post.

Also says some pretty terrible things about capitalism that it needs to be defended by crushing protests with tanks. And this is supposed to be an argument in its favor?

That's not what I said at all.

I said it would be bad for US, which was the only opinion added to the post. There are no arguments for anything as I only wrote about the accuracy of what occurred. Maybe somebody else will entertain the conversation you want to have though.

Wait the tank man photo was taken after the first night of massacres!? Man I thought it was before

It really changes the context doesn't it? It's pretty incredible.

Wow this is so interesting, I didn't know there were so many more photos of these events taken by this photographer. The image of the burning tank is especially striking.

I love the story behind Charlie Cole's alternate perspective, where he had to hide his film in a toilet tank.

The first thought when I heard tank man was the guy that built a tank out of a bulldozer.

Why downvote? A few days ago was the 14th anniversary of that. It seems people are downvoting a legitimate difference in experience.



Please don't do this. Thank you.

There was so much optimism at the time that China would reject communism and move to a model of self governance by its people.

Eventually that will happen. But the chances of it happening soon are now lower than before, because the Chinese powers that be are now hip to how quickly things can get out of hand. They have stepped up monitoring of their citizens considerably in spite of an outward appearance of openness.

> self governance by its people

Aren't 90 million members of CPC Chinese people?

I guess it’s a great system for those who get in, it isn’t universal suffrage, and there isn’t a system of checks and balances.

And then there is the justice system...


I thought this was referencing the other (based) tank man, Marvin John Heemeyer, who died 17 years ago today.

I at first thought Tank Man meant the picture from the gulf war of a burnt husk of a human pictured while trying to escape a burning tank. Such a horrible picture.


You forgot to mention that it’s from the Highway of Death, where US forces bombed a retreating iraqi vehicle column to ashes. The death toll was zero on the US side versus 1000-2000 on the iraqi side.

Well, unlike what the downvote brigade thought, I wasn't trying to point fingers. Now I don't need to.

We know China has an army of net monitors. Ya gotta wonder if now a gang is poring over HN pages like this one, trying to match HN aliases to people IRL so they know to whom to deny visas. Hello there, monitors! Pls don't get me barred from future entry.

Something smells off. Especially these sentences: “ I never ceased to be awed by the courage of ordinary citizens risking dangerous rescues that immediately followed the massacre. Press reports had claimed hundreds or thousands of people had died during the military crackdown.”

Presuming he was right at the scene of action, why does he pass the buck to the claims of ‘press reports’? And it's also suspicious the word 'massacre' is only used once before said buck passing.

The tactics of the writing style are more akin to CIA psyops.

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