TAIPEI – A Taiwanese artist has created giant inflatables of a tank and “Tank Man” — the lone protester who stood in front of a convoy of tanks on Beijing’s Tiananmen Square — to mark 30 years since China’s bloody crackdown on the pro-democracy movement. The photograph of a man in a white shirt standing in the path of the tanks has become one of the most recognized images of the 20th century, and a symbol of peaceful protest.
The balloons are on display in the Taiwanese capital Taipei, by the Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall, one of the country’s most famous landmarks.
Mention of the June 4, 1989, crackdown is heavily censored in Chinese news and social media. The ruling Communist Party has never declared how many protesters were killed in and around Tiananmen Square.
“As a Taiwanese I hope I can help China to also achieve democracy one day. So I think it is important to the Taiwanese people to continue discussing this topic — preventing people from forgetting this event and reminding the Taiwanese people that the regime in China is dangerous,” said the artist, Shake.
“This thing has already been washed away by (China’s) authoritarian political view,” she added, noting Hong Kong and Taiwan are commemorating the event.
Visitors to the memorial hall posed for photographs with the balloons.
“Both the place and timing to put this up require courage, there are so many tourists from China coming to Chiang Kai-Shek Memorial Hall,” said Su Yung-Hua, a 21-year-old student.
She called the artwork a “statement against the Chinese government.”
“I think it is very brave to put it here and I am quite concerned that there could be someone who pops it with a needle at night.”