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The Tank Man and the Kennedy assassination


Pat Speer
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I watched PBS' program on The Tank Man the other day and couldn't help but think about the Kennedy assassination. (The Tank Man has become the media's term for that brave individual who stood in front of and briefly stopped a line of tanks from proceeding across China's Tianamen square in 1989.) While there were not any direct parallels, some of the revelations in the program ought to make you wonder...

!. While LNers like to cry that a conspiracy to kill Kennedy would have been exposed by now, the Tank Man, whose image was broadcast worldwide, has never been identified. Nor have the identities of the four men who rushed him out of the way ever been revealed.

2. Within days of the incident, a British journalist of Chinese descent wrote that several of his sources had confirmed that the man's name was Wang Weilin. Other journalists have never been able to confirm this. While some American journaists believe the four men who pushed the Tank Man aside were Chinese secret police, an expert on China noted that the men pushed the tank man off the street and ran away with him. They never hit him or twisted his arm while on camera. It was her belief he was rescued by his fellow protesters, many of whom had been shot in the days preceding the incident, and that Tank Man may be alive today.

3. A British newspaper published an article within days after the Tank Man had been identified declaring he'd been executed by the Chinese government. The supposed writer of this article, John Passmore, was on the program on The Tank Man the other night, however, and denied writing this article or that he had ever been informed of the Tank Man's death. The implication in the program was that this article had been planted by U.S. intelligence in order to further discredit the Chinese government worldwide. When asked about the Tank Man by Barbara Walters, a Chinese leader told her that the man "had never been killed". This might mean he'd been captured and imprisoned. Nevertheless, since the image of the Tank Man had been intitially shown on Chinese TV, if he'd been arrested it would have served the Chinese government's purposes to have announced his arrest and incarceration. It would have sent his fellow protesters a powerful message. If he, in fact, had been captured some time later, it would have served the purposes of Chinese disssidents to announce it worldwide, to put pressure on the government not to have him killed.

4. The most surprising (or shocking) section of the program dealt with the Chinese government's ongoing efforts to hide the image of Tank Man from the Chinese people. The program's producers showed the image of Tank Man to students from the University whose students started the 1989 protests and none of them knew what the image represented. Several of them said they thought it was a parade. While there are over 100 million internet users in China today, it turns out that Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and Microsoft work with the Chinese government to police the content and keep images of Tank Man from the web. Yahoo, in fact, turned in a Chinese dissident who sent Chinese censorship guidelines to the New York Times via the internet. The man has been sentenced to ten years in prison. When asked about their assistance to the Chinese thought police, the heads of the companies told the U.S. Congress in february 2006 that they tried to follow the laws in every country in which they operated. One congressman asked them if it was 1943 and the Nazis wanted them to turn in Anne Frank, would they cooperate? The program didn't show their response.

Anyhow, from all this, it's clear that John's concerns about Google are well-founded. Who knows how many "laws" internet companies are going along with without informing their users?

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  • 7 months later...

I watched PBS' program on The Tank Man the other day and couldn't help but think about the Kennedy assassination. (The Tank Man has become the media's term for that brave individual who stood in front of and briefly stopped a line of tanks from proceeding across China's Tianamen square in 1989.) While there were not any direct parallels, some of the revelations in the program ought to make you wonder...

!. While LNers like to cry that a conspiracy to kill Kennedy would have been exposed by now, the Tank Man, whose image was broadcast worldwide, has never been identified. Nor have the identities of the four men who rushed him out of the way ever been revealed.

2. Within days of the incident, a British journalist of Chinese descent wrote that several of his sources had confirmed that the man's name was Wang Weilin. Other journalists have never been able to confirm this. While some American journaists believe the four men who pushed the Tank Man aside were Chinese secret police, an expert on China noted that the men pushed the tank man off the street and ran away with him. They never hit him or twisted his arm while on camera. It was her belief he was rescued by his fellow protesters, many of whom had been shot in the days preceding the incident, and that Tank Man may be alive today.

3. A British newspaper published an article within days after the Tank Man had been identified declaring he'd been executed by the Chinese government. The supposed writer of this article, John Passmore, was on the program on The Tank Man the other night, however, and denied writing this article or that he had ever been informed of the Tank Man's death. The implication in the program was that this article had been planted by U.S. intelligence in order to further discredit the Chinese government worldwide. When asked about the Tank Man by Barbara Walters, a Chinese leader told her that the man "had never been killed". This might mean he'd been captured and imprisoned. Nevertheless, since the image of the Tank Man had been intitially shown on Chinese TV, if he'd been arrested it would have served the Chinese government's purposes to have announced his arrest and incarceration. It would have sent his fellow protesters a powerful message. If he, in fact, had been captured some time later, it would have served the purposes of Chinese disssidents to announce it worldwide, to put pressure on the government not to have him killed.

4. The most surprising (or shocking) section of the program dealt with the Chinese government's ongoing efforts to hide the image of Tank Man from the Chinese people. The program's producers showed the image of Tank Man to students from the University whose students started the 1989 protests and none of them knew what the image represented. Several of them said they thought it was a parade. While there are over 100 million internet users in China today, it turns out that Google, Yahoo, Cisco, and Microsoft work with the Chinese government to police the content and keep images of Tank Man from the web. Yahoo, in fact, turned in a Chinese dissident who sent Chinese censorship guidelines to the New York Times via the internet. The man has been sentenced to ten years in prison. When asked about their assistance to the Chinese thought police, the heads of the companies told the U.S. Congress in february 2006 that they tried to follow the laws in every country in which they operated. One congressman asked them if it was 1943 and the Nazis wanted them to turn in Anne Frank, would they cooperate? The program didn't show their response.

Anyhow, from all this, it's clear that John's concerns about Google are well-founded. Who knows how many "laws" internet companies are going along with without informing their users?

[/quote

if conspirators can't keep secrets, where's Hoffa?

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[/quote

if conspirators can't keep secrets, where's Hoffa?

Probably in pieces at that farm. Whatever happened to all that anyway? I have a good friend in the Union who loves Hoffa to this day - bumper stickers and everything. You have to admit, they have a nice pension plan - particularly when you compare it with Telecom. He thinks they ground him up and fed him to the livestock.

Pat,

When I was in College in '89, I became acquainted with a Chinese student from Beijing. He had a lot to say - apparently continuing education in China was a choice that came with consequences - he related quite a few horror stories. If I remember correctly, there was a military conscription mandated - a special program for the college bound kids? - they kicked one of his friends to death, etc. If half of what he related is true [i see no reason why I shouldn't have believed him], then Tank Man wouldn't have had much of a chance.

BTW - if you've ever done Telecom related business with China, you'd know that you can't - without direct Government involvement. They own a significant part of your network, or there is no network. So it's no surprise to learn about all of the companies that bow to the wishes of the Chinese Government. I remember trying to do what I could to get a company I worked for OUT of China. Every dollar earned cost a buck fifty - not even mentioning the games you have to play and the palms you have to grease. It was supposed to be the biggest market ever - opening up next year, or the year after that, or the year after that - and that went on for 2+ decades.

We only need one thanks.

One? How can you run a network with only one?

We don't plan to - we will reverse engineer yours, and then mass market them and run you into the ground.

But isn't that [doh] illegal?

- lee

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I happened to have been in Beijing in May 1989 as a volunteer with a small group of journalists who helped to put out an English language daily newspaper -- English was all the rage among the students and other demonstrators, who were building Statues of Liberty in Red Square, reciting the Declaration of Independence, and fully expecting that the US Government would stand strong behind them, just as it was supporting the liberation of the Soviet Empire and Eastern Europe. We moved into the People's Daily, where people, pigs, cows, and chickens all lived in close proximity, and helped introduce the students to the glories of publishing on Macs -- which we brought along with us. I have no idea who that courageous young man in The Tank picture was, but I got to knew several other courageous young Chinese during this period, some of whom are still among the ranks of the "disappeared." We left about the second week of May.

Two weeks later the troops moved in, and started shooting. Four weeks later, the first Bush Administration dispatched Brent Scrowcroft to Beijing, where he reassured the Chinese Government that US relations were secure -- despite their brutilitarianism. A couple years later, Bill Clinton showed that he was not much better, by reneging on his promises to insist on Chinese respect for human rights. That was only the first of many such reversals by the eminently-flexible Mr. Clinton.

To this day I have not been back to China. They tell me it is a thriving capitalist one-party state -- which does, however, leave a few things to be desired in the areas of human rights, political freedom, inequality, environmental degradation, corruption, and the preservation of China's cultural and architechtural heritage. But at least they are able to experience the wonders of McDonalds, Walmart, Toyota, Daimler, Citibank, BP, and Goldman Sachs -- truly the most venerable Euro-American exports, compared with which intangibles like rights and social justice are mere chimera. Poor Tank Man, you are better off missing......

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