The man in the photograph was alone, standing in front of a line of tanks. He was wearing a white shirt and black trousers. He was carrying a shopping bag. It was the morning of June 5, 1989, the day after Chinese troops massacred thousands of pro-democracy protesters in and around Beijing’s Tiananmen Square.
The image has come to serve as a kind of symbolic, final act of defiance, the last tragic gesture in a non-violent uprising that lasted nearly two months and brought millions of people into the streets of more than 300 Chinese cities before it was brutally crushed in a mayhem of state-organized mass murder.