Tiananmen Square Tank Man: 25 Years Later, His Memory Lives On

PHOTO: A lone demonstrator stands down a column of tanks June 5, 1989 at the entrance to Tiananmen Square in Beijing.PlayCNN via Getty Images
WATCH Terror in Tiananmen Square

It's an iconic image that defined courage and defiance for a generation around the globe.

But little is known about the man who blocked the path of a column tanks in Tiananmen Square in Beijing 25 years ago, on June 5, 1989.

Over the years he has come to be known as the "Tank Man," the "Unknown Rebel," or the "Unknown Protester."

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Some reports have identified the man as Wang Weilin, but his true identity has not been confirmed. The South Korean news agency Yonhap reported in 2006 that Wang Weilin was an alias and that he had escaped the massacre in Tiananmen Square and has made his way to Taiwan via Hong Kong.

What we do know about him are his actions, captured that day in stunning video footage.

The video shows the man blocking more than a dozen tanks that were rolling down Chang'an Avenue the day after hundreds of student protesters were gunned down by the Chinese military. The lead tank moves back and forth, trying to go around the man, but the man kept of blocking its path. The man then climbs up on the lead tank and appears to talk to one of the soldiers inside the tank.

The man is eventually led away by his arms by two men. It remains unclear if those men were police or security forces, or just bystanders who were concerned about the man.

In April 1998, Time magazine included the "Unknown Rebel" in a feature titled "Time 100: The Most Important People of the Century."