Jiang Zemin’s intriguing appearance on American TV – Frank Beyer
On June 4th 1989, the day before he took the famous ‘Tank Man’ photo, American photographer Jeff Widener was in Tiananmen square. Soldiers were arriving to break up the pro-democracy protests that had been ongoing since April. Widener saw an armoured car hurtle into some steel barriers erected by the protesters and crash. He imagined himself getting the Pulitzer prize if he could take a photo of what happened next. He walked towards the chaos, but a brick smashed his camera and ripped his forehead open. A soldier appeared from out of the prone vehicle with his hands raised, surrendering, but protesters descended on him with bricks and pipes. Standing there with blood dripping into his eyes, Widener woke up to the fact that the mob could be about to beat the soldier to death, and balked at taking a photo. He got the hell out of there.
The next day, Jeff was on the roof of the Beijing Hotel when a line of tanks moved towards Tiananmen square below. He had to get a photo of this and it was a near thing – he was almost out of film. He felt like a NBA star with one shot to win the game: make it and you’re a hero, miss it and you’ll regret it forever. Then it happened. A man, a lone protester, walked in front of the line of tanks, and Jeff took the photo which would become famous.