Today marks the 25th anniversary of when the Chinese government sent the military to stop students protesting in Tiananmen Square. One of the most iconic images of the 20th Century was taken at that event.
While the fate of the student who bravely stood in front of the tank is unknown, in the 25 years since his stance, China has attempted to erase him and the protests from its history. In fact today, and every June 4th, China goes further in its censorship of the internet to prevent its citizens from learning about their own history. From The Atlantic:
Today—the day known to much of the rest of the world as the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests—is known, in China, as "Internet maintenance day." In anticipation of the anniversary, the PRC's censors have strategically shut down Internet services (Google's among them). It's a silent holiday, for the most part: As the Wall Street Journal's Jason Ng notes, the People’s Daily, the country's Communist Party newspaper, led today's front page with a story about Xi Jinping’s attendance of an engineering conference.
According to NBC News, many young people in China know nothing about the events 25 years ago:
Louisa Lim, author of a new book on the events that took place in Tiananmen Square, showed the iconic 'Tank Man' photo to 100 students at four Beijing universities and found that only 15 could correctly identify it.
The National Museum of China, itself located on Tiananmen Square, makes no mention of the crackdown in its exhibit on the country's modern history. "They try to eradicate the whole memory. They try to erase everything about June the 4th,"one eyewitness to the events of 1989 told NBC News' Ian Williams.
One theory about why "Tank Man" as he is known around the world has never come forward (if he is still alive) is that he is completely unaware of his international fame.