Beijing — A Beijing audience was shocked when a banned image of the Tiananmen Square “tank man” was displayed on giant screens during a performance by a Canadian troupe.
The image of a lone, unarmed protester blocking a line of Chinese tanks during the 1989 government crackdown at Tiananmen Square was displayed for about four seconds as part of a montage of protest imagery during a performance of Michael Jackson’s “They Don’t Care About Us”.
The photo, and the very mention of the 1989 massacre itself, is banned in China. It is unclear how the image made it past the attention of government censors.
“The very fact it was displayed, so publicly and on such a large movie theater screen in front of so many people — and in Beijing, of all places — felt genuinely quite radical,” wrote one audience member. “As my friend commented, ‘I can’t imagine ever being witness to that image being shown in Beijing again, even if I stay here for another 50 years.'”
The performance was by Cirque du Soleil, whose publicist Laura Silverman said that “the image was removed immediately and is no longer shown” in the show, according to the South China Morning Post. She also said the troupe had submitted the full show to the Chinese Ministry of Culture for prior approval, as required. “Our scheduled performances will go on as planned,” she added.
The incident occurred in front of an audience of 15,000 during the first night of the troupe’s three-night run of Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour. The “tank man” image was removed from the performance after the first night.
The performance continues its run in Shanghai on Friday, and then moves to Hong Kong next week. Image/CNN