Tiananmen Square and “Tank Boy”

By | 10 December 13

Tianamen Square, China - courtesy of Idea 22Recently, visitors have mentioned Tiananmen Square and “Tank Boy.”

The following are some of the many comments by people who recall “Tank Boy” being run over and perhaps killed.

In September 2011, Angel said:

I remember “tank boy” getting run over by the tank at Tiananmen Square. My husband doesn’t. We googled it and apparently he didn’t get run over. I have a very vivid memory though. I remember seeing a video of it. I remember learning this in 7th grade history.

Joy, Marna Ehrich, and Sez agreed.

In August 2012, Bree said:

I remember TANK BOY getting run over. My partner and myself were talking about Tiananmen Square and tank boy. I mentioned how horrible it was that he was killed, my partner had no memory of that and thought I was crazy. He had to go on YouTube to show me that he lived. As i watched i had no recollection of that event of him living.

James agreed:

Same here I remember seeing blood on the street after the tank rolled over him and how the backlash nearly caused communism to fall apart in china and then they switched to the capitalistic command economy. This is so weird.

aragami said:

… i very clearly remember the guy getting run over by the tank.

Josh responded:

Wait, the guy didn’t get run over by the tank?

miss_fionna clarified:

I remember the so called “tank guy” being famous exactly because he was killed by that tank. (Again, this is a memory of a news event talking about it after the original event had occurred.)

In December 2013, Robin said:

I also remember the Tiananmen thing, the guy and more also got ran over. I remember that especially because of how they described how they died….heads popping like melons…it was such a horror for me at the time that an authority could harm it’s own non-violent citizens! At the time the story was that the one guy held back the tanks as long as the photographers and newscasters were there. Once they left, whammo, all in the path were squashed.

Joseph left a lengthy comment with great links:

This freaked me out so badly when I heard that he didn’t get run over. I had to do some research into this.
I remember it.
I remember watching it in school.
I remember his friends dragging his lifeless body away.

Apparently SEVERAL people remember him getting run over.


Here is a link to a video that was supposed to show him getting run over, but the video is gone.

But it gets even better.
People remember the bloodshed right?



Well, apparently that didn’t happen according to wikileaks.


Here’s a link to a blog covering the “Tianenmen Myth”.

Here’s a link to the video as it is supposed to have happened.

Read the comments.
Reality gets freaking weirder every day.

This memory seems to be vivid for many people.  If you share that memory, I hope you’ll leave a comment and whether you saw the event covered by the media when it happened, whether you heard about it in a history class, or somewhere else.

Photo credit: Idea 22, USA

47 thoughts on “Tiananmen Square and “Tank Boy”

  1. NowIamFreakedOut

    I have a memory of watching this live with my mom, glued to the set, holding our breath, but certain that, like in any movie, the tanks would stop. They didn’t, the tank ran right over him and we were horrified. I remember feeling panicked, then later realizing that this was the first death that I witnessed in real time.

    1. joey01

      Mashed memories are very common. I was a young boy 10 or 11 when the Tank Man stepped out in front of these tanks. I remember this man being killed, but when I asked my mum about this more recently her response was that he had become a symbol for his daring stance and swift escape.

      When I sit back and recall exactly what I saw and heard was news articles reporting the fighting and that it was likely tanks had run over peaceful protestors. Some truth, a lot of news hyperbole.

      I amalgamated both memories into one, thus the birth of the death of Tank Man.

      To be clear, while these protests became quite bloody and violent, it was the military that struck first, between 4000 and 6000 students and protesters were killed. It was violent, unnecessary and a dark dark day in the history of China.

    2. Daniel

      I have not considered ‘conspiracy theories’ since I was young but this has peaked my interest, I’m sure I remember at least 1 person being run over by tanks in the Tiananmen square massacre, I didn’t see it but heard news reports at the time with students being mowed down & thought of them as martyrs, strange thinking this didn’t happen.

  2. Ithoughtcastrodied

    I wasn’t alive when the incident occurred, but I thought this was why this guy was so historically important.

    Also on a completely unrelated note, I remember Fidel Castro dying a few years ago.

    1. Gurluas

      I have a vague recollection of Fidel Castro dying to Cancer a year or so since Raul took over.

  3. Bonnie

    My memory was that he survived, because I’ve read theories that the reason why he is still unidentified is because he is alive but unaware of his international recognition. This image and the whole Tiananmen incident is virtually unknown in modern China because of censorship, unless one was old enough to have a memory of it when it happened. I was born after it happened and had to read a novel about it, ‘Forbidden City’ by William Bell, for a middle school social studies class in Canada. My family is Chinese, and my parents were living in China when it happened. Chinese people who know about the incident think it’s unfair how schools in the West are teaching about it because it gives China a bad reputation. For the longest time I’ve only seen still images, and the only things I didn’t remember seeing when I finally watched a YouTube video were the shopping bags, not whether he was run over.

  4. Chandra

    Just wanted to say it was equally shocking for my husband and I when we just looked up this video. Both of us were positive he was run over.

  5. Michelle

    Wait.. wasn’t that the whole point of the horror of Tianemen Square, that they ran him over?

    I’m confused… I’m pretty sure he was killed.

    1. Brian

      Ya, that’s why China was so EVIL, right? They went on and on about it. It’s not some singular or minor memory on the fringe, this was a major world event. This was their big emotional pull argument for the evils of communism for like 2 years.

      Something is totally screwed with our reality, or memories, or something.

  6. Faizal

    I remember the guy being run over too. Even toldy lil bro about it some years back.

    But there’s more here than meets the eye. Clearly our memories can’t be trusted anymore.
    Could it be that history is getting edited?
    I have had some experiences over the years as well but I have always reasoned that it might have been a dream. At least now I know I’m either not crazy or I’m not the only one that’s crazy

    1. Gurluas

      Anything is possible. But I personally believe that either our memories are being overwritten by another reality, or we make short jaunts to other realities without noticing it.

      I believe it is the former. As our memories for the most part, everything that defines us. If we get a few days of memory from a reality almost identical to ours, we most likely wont notice.

      The problem for some when these events appear to happen in real time.
      An example being, the couple who watched Star Trek Voyager, and saw Robert Beltran’s character Chakotay die, then he was gone for several episodes and back.Did they live in another reality for those episodes? Or was their memory overwritten with information where they watched those things happen?

      The most common effect appears to be emotional though. Real memories seem to be rare.
      Often people remembers being sad that someone dies for instance, but they do not remember concrete memories, just emotions.

      I was asking some people some time ago. And I asked about Billy Graham, and someone I knew remembers being sad at his death. With further inquiry, it wasn’t the priest Billy Graham, but the wrestler. He is ALSO not dead.

      I believe that some things can leak over. And it can be anything from emotions, to memories, to light (ghosts), and even to flesh and blood beings. and exotic particles.

  7. BrandonD

    I also remember him being run over. I’d believed he was run over right up until this moment.

  8. Juha

    Interesting, because i was sure the point of the story was him getting ran over.

    Then probably year ago i found out it did not happen. I was searching for the picture and then i read from wikipedia(?) the whole story behind it.

  9. Flummoxed

    Oh good grief another one. As I recall it, he was run over and was almost given a saint like following. He stood – and fell – because of his beliefs. I can remember this, I know I can.

  10. harry

    I remember watching the news on tv at the time … after the tv crews were removed, tank boy and many others were crushed and/or shot with supersonic bullets … the square was cleaned up very quickly with bodies being taken away in mobile incinerators … according to newspaper reports that week … the government there then claimed that only a few soldiers were killed and that everyone else had been peacefully dispersed!

  11. JM

    Yeah the whole point of the story was the he DID get run over. This is what I recall.

  12. Neil

    We have the picture of the Tank Boy in Tianamen square in our maths class and I remember sometime within the last two years her telling us that he got run over…

  13. Tara

    I remember watching it with my family on the news when it happened. They showed him going under the tank. Then I showed my daughter years later there used to be a video showing that. She remembers the same. I would like to see actual paper news copies. That is weird!

  14. Thanassis Vembos

    Hello. Here in Greece, we had a military dictatorship from 1967 till 1974. In November 1973 there was a large uprising against the regime. Army and tanks crashed the uprising -one of the tanks invaded the Polytechnic School where rebel students made a stand against the dictatorship. In one incident, one of the armored vehicles passed over one rioter who -intentionally- was lying down on the road in the center of Athens to protest. He was unharmed -and as far as I know, his identity is still unknown. This incident has a strong resemblance with the supposed “run over” of the Chinese student in 1989. Check this stunning video out here: http://youtu.be/NuXeUK1SDjE?t=28m33s

  15. me

    He did run over he did went under the tank and it’s nothing like the greek video. I remember it clearly, I remember the shock of seeing how he didin’t move an inch as the tank was moving towards him. Have we really gotten to the point where with manipulation of information history can be changed?

  16. Julia R.

    I actually discovered my “wrong” memory of this a few years ago. I was talking about it to my husband and made a comment about how sad it was that he died. My husband looked at me funny and told me he had lived. I didn’t see the footage of him being run over (I was around 9 years old), but I have a very distinct memory of everyone being horrified after it had happened. I remember it being used as an example of how standing up for what you believe in is a noble thing, but can have major consequences.

  17. Kahos

    i remember reading about the death of the “Tank-Boy” in the act, i dont remmeber the scene of the tank running over him, but i clearly remember sentences like “an act of peace, finish with the dead of one civilian unarmed”, “one civil trying to stop the tanks, the entire world conmoved with her sacrifice”, mmm any way, i remmember the guy death in that place, indeed, when i recently see the video of the other guys taking him out of the way of the tank, i feel surprised. Even i remember in my childhood seen programs like “Most shocking videos of the world” and see that video, cuted just before he die.
    Even , that day i thing that Chinese Government make one diferent scene of what happened that day, you know, for change the world opinion of the rest of the world.

    PD:i) Even i remmember the quality of the video some diferent to the actual videos.
    ii) Im from Mexico, actually i have 23 years. Sorry for my bad english

  18. sam m

    I was fairly sure that he had been run over. However, this brings a whole new meaning to System of A Down’s song Hypnotize. It makes reference to Tiananman Square, as well as how we’re being hypnotized by mass media.

    this also could help explain why China hasn’t called in their debt to us, as a stunt like this could really save the reputation of a country

  19. will k

    Only recently did I first hear any idea that the tank boy had actually lived, although it sounds like a lot of speculation on the media’s part. They brought it up as it was the 25 year anniversary.

    I was too young to remember the incident when it happened and all the footage I’ve ever seen looked to just cut off as the tank was getting closer to the boy. Although, I don’t consider this a memory from a different timeline, but rather a weird suppression of a known fact in recent years.

  20. Steven Comer

    I remember him getting ran over and all the things you would imagen following that (blood, body being moved, massive political consequences ECT)

  21. Brian

    The news went on and on about them running over the boy with the tank. I remember the video, and the sick replays. The telltale small rise the tank made… The news / US government made it a major point regarding why China was evil.

    So, you are telling me they didn’t run over a person at the Tianamen Square thing??

  22. Berheal

    It’s all about social manipulation, its possible that “they” have technology far more advanced than what we the everyday people have and that history is rewritten whenever “they” need a new shift in the paradigm of the populace. For instance at one time, it was beneficial to “them” for the general public to view China and Communism as evil so news was manipulated, created or staged or simply taken advantage of to further that agenda, now China is such a major player in trade and commerce and quite possibly poised to take centre stage as the new world power “they” don’t see any problem with rewriting history to reflect a different China. Before long you will die and the only memory left will be the one where the guy wasn’t run over. Its all about shaping society to achieve the outcomes “they” need. Who knows how many millennia “they” have been doing this for.
    Just a speculation

  23. grandmacaesar

    I’ve been a news junkie all my life. I was in my late 20s when it happened. I watched it on tv. The guy did not get run over.

  24. melody

    I clearly remember him getting run over. I am 50.

  25. Ruby

    When I was in 7th grade (early 2007), my social studies teacher was talking about communism and asked what we knew about communism in the real world. I raised my hand and said something about china, tank man, and tiananem square. My teacher looked horrified that I’d mentioned such an event with a smile on my face (I like being right) and explained to the entire class that the tank man was run over on live TV and that a lot of Americans saw it live and it was horrifying. That didn’t sound quite right to me but I was not one to fight authority figures at 13. Come to my freshman year of college, we watch a BBC special on tank man and it shows all the footage of tank man **not** being run over. I was always angry my teacher called me out and was so upset but I realize now she might have ‘slipped’ into another universe for a time and saw that footage. I should really email her to let her know to stop teaching history wrong.

  26. me (commenter's name... not Fiona)

    I remember him being run over.
    I also remember the anchor, maybe Dan Rather, apologizing on behalf of the network for showing this mans graphic death and not cutting the feed.
    Weird wild whacky stuff.

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      me (the commenter’s name),

      Very cool! I knew I’d seen additional references to the footage but it wasn’t clear in my memory until you mentioned the anchor apologizing because the footage wasn’t edited. I do recall that part, and what a big deal was made because systems were supposed to be in place, to prevent unedited footage from airing.

      Thanks for that note!


  27. Outroversion

    I don’t know if anyone’s considered this but is it possible that is what happened, was reported but then changed due to the impact?

    In the novel 1984 it describes the news as being the telling of what happened in events, like it doesn’t matter what actually happened or if it was ever being reported differently, what you are being told is what happened. It’s what the news says so that’s what happened, no two ways about it. If you remember it differently you’re mistaken it’s there in plaintext, regardless of what actually happened.

  28. Jon

    I wonder if you all remember seeing this because it is so strongly implied by the photo, an image that has penetrated deeply into the collective unconscious since it was first published? I too assumed that he must have been run over, otherwise why would the picture be so significant and be surrounded by such an aura of horror? I believe this was a leap of logic I made as a child since I could not understood the intended encoding of the photo’s meaning as that of a young capitalist generation standing up to the communist war machine and refusing to be run over.

  29. Derek

    Has anyone ever considered the possibility that what the majority of people remember (The man being run over) is the truth, while the story we are shocked to hear (that he lived) is a lie fed to us after the fact? As long as we are throwing out explanations involving separate timelines and alternate realities, I think we should also consider the more mundane, and much more highly likely explanation that we are being fed false information.

      1. Gurluas

        Indeed, but how would you go about wiping every filmed copy in existance of the event and replace it with one where he lives? Occam’s Razor does not apply in some situations where the mundane explanation is even more illogical than the extraordinary one.

        Heres what I think happened… It’s possible this is an example of timeline tampering. In the current reality, some people pop up and drag him out of the Tank’s way. What if that didn’t happen originally, and he got run over?

  30. pedro

    He got run over ! no doubt..i remember it vividly…recently i went to show a friend and nothing happened…i thought there must be another tank boy….i searched and nothing…this is creepy, but interesting !

  31. Angel

    What all of you probably remember is some footage from a film named “La pelle” (The skin) by Lilliana Cavani where a tank runover is depicted in a rather horrifying manner.

    1. Fiona Broome Post author

      No, Angel, we don’t all remember that. I’d never even heard of it until you mentioned it. Even though I’m a long-time Marcello Mastroianni fan, I had to look it up. ( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0082893/ ) The movie was Italian, set in World War II, and… well, I could continue the list of differences for a l-o-n-g time.

      It’s not even close to the Tiananmen Square incident, and I’m not sure I should even include your comment in the thread. It’s so unlike what happened in Tiananmen Square, this looks troll-like to me.

      And, for the record, we’re not confusing the incident with the Russian video, http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/world-news/soldier-run-over-tank-during-3693521 or the more geographically related incidents in Changsha Village (victim: He Zhi Hua) or Pan Jin City (victim: Wang Shi Jie), either.

  32. Cece

    I distinctly remember in my 6th grade history class talking about it. There was a poster on the wall of him standing in front of two tanks with his arms spread. I remember pointing to that poster and asking about it, and I VERY MUCH REMEMBER him explaining the riots and the boy. I was so sad when I learned they never even stopped.

  33. Kim

    I am 56 years old, I thought to this day that the tank ran over him! I clearly remember that. I am just discovering this site. Don’t quite know what to think.

  34. Michael Oxenrider

    Yeah, he got ran over. And when I stumbled onto this site I thought that the controversy was whether or not it was shown, not whether or not he was ran over. I’m going to look this up, but maybe the Chinese Government just doesn’t want the bad press of it. This is some 1984 shiv going on.

  35. Sean Gundlach

    I was in high school when the Tienanmen Square incident occurred and have no memory whatsoever of Tank Man getting run over. How the event was considered at the time was that one man stood up to tyranny, but he did not get run over.


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