Chinese leaders at Zhongnanhai all know the answer. But they are not going to tell you. When it comes to the Tiananmen Massacre and the fate of the Tank Man, they have all taken an oath of silence.
Jiang Zemin is the only Chinese official who has ever answered questions on this topic. Jiang broke his silence during a 1990 interview with Barbara Walters from the American Broadcasting Company for ABC News. The following is a transcript of the part about the Tank Man:
WALTERS: What happened to the young man?
JIANG: I think this young man maybe not killed by the tank.
WALTERS: No, but did you arrest him? We heard he was arrested and executed.
JIANG: [through interpreter] Well, I can’t confirm whether this young man you mentioned was arrested or not.
WALTERS: You do not know what happened to him?
JIANG: But I think never never killed.
WALTERS: You think he was never killed.
JIANG: I think never killed.
WALTERS: Never killed.
In the same interview, Jiang also commented on the number of students killed at Tiananmen Square on 4 June 1989. He refuted outside accusation of massacre as mere ‘stuff and nonsense’ and ‘much ado about nothing’. He was adamant that no one would be able to find a single case of anyone killed at Tiananmen Square on that evening. He was absolutely right. Twenty years from now, there are more and more so-called “eye witnesses”, both Chinese and westerners, who have come forward to claim that they saw no one being killed at Tiananmen Square. Some of them, however, admitted that killing had taken place throughout the night on the streets surrounding the Square. Most killed were not students. They were workers and common citizens (or laobaixing).
Does it really matter where the massacre had taken place? The bottom line is: many innocent people were slaughtered. Their death was seen as collateral damages – a small price to pay for greater prosperity to come. How sad! What hope do we have to be able to find the Tank Man?