TANK MAN (Channel 4)

It was one of the most defining iconic images of the twentieth century. On June 5th 1989, one day after Chinese troops expelled thousands of demonstrators from Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, a solitary protester, carrying nothing but two shopping bags, stood his ground before a column of tanks, rolling down the adjacent Avenue of Eternal Peace.

The extraordinary spectacle continued for minutes on end, staged before Western photographers and journalists, crouching on the balconies of the nearby Beijing Hotel, until three men – possibly fellow protesters, possibly members of the Public Security Bureau (China’s secret police) – hustled him away. The identity of that solitary protester has never been revealed. In this fascinating film, award-winning film-maker Antony Thomas investigates the identity and fate of the “The Tank Man”, and in so doing provides a deeper insight into tragic events of 1989 and China’s emergence in the years since the lone protestor made his heroic stand.

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