Wu'erkaixi in Taipei, 2013
17 February 1968|
People's Republic of China (1968－1994)|
Republic of China (1994－present)
|Other names||Uerkesh Davlet, Wu'er Kaixi|
Minzu University of China|
Beijing Normal University
Örkesh Dölet (Uyghur: ئۆركەش دۆلەت; alternatively transliterated Uerkesh Davlet), commonly known as Wu'erkaixi (from the Chinese spelling of his name: simplified Chinese: 吾尔开希; traditional Chinese: 吾爾開希; pinyin: Wú'ěrkāixī), is a Chinese dissident of Uyghur heritage known for his leading role during the Tiananmen protests of 1989.
As an ethnic Uyghur, he was born in Beijing on February 17, 1968 with ancestral roots in Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture, Xinjiang. He achieved prominence while studying at Beijing Normal University as a hunger striker who rebuked Chinese Premier Li Peng on national television. He was one of the main leaders of the pro-reform Beijing Students' Autonomous Federation, and helped lead abortive negotiations with Chinese officials.
He now resides in Taiwan, where he works as a political commentator. His attempts to turn himself in to Chinese authorities have made him one of the most visible dissidents in recent years. He has run for office in Taiwan's Legislative Yuan twice.
Protests and discussions
Wu'er Kaixi arrived on the scene in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, in mid-April 1989, the very beginning of the student movement, after having founded an independent student's association at Beijing Normal University. He quickly emerged as one of the most outspoken student leaders as the size of the crowds increased. According to Eddie Cheng, at a hastily convened meeting to form the Beijing Students Autonomous Federation and elect its leader, Zhou Yongjun of the University of Political Science and Law narrowly defeated Wu'er Kaixi to be its first president. After organizing the most successful demonstration of the 1989 movement on April 27, he was then elected as the president of the Autonomous Union.
Upon meeting Premier Li Peng for the first time in May 1989, in an encounter recorded on national television, Wu'er Kaixi interrupted Li during his introduction, saying "I understand it is quite rude of me to interrupt you, Premier, but there are people sitting out there in the square, being hungry, as we sit here and exchange pleasantries. We are only here to discuss concrete matters, sir." After being interrupted by Li, who said that he was being somewhat impolite, Wu'er Kaixi continued. "Sir, you said you are here late [because of traffic congestion]... we've actually been calling you to talk to us since 22 April. It's not that you are late, it's that you're here too late. But that's fine. It's good that you are able to come here at all ..."
After the protests, Wu'er Kaixi was No 2 on China's list of most wanted student leaders. He fled to France through Hong Kong under the aegis of Operation Yellowbird, and then studied at Harvard University in the United States. After one year of study there, he moved to the San Francisco Bay Area and continued his studies at Dominican University. Afterward he emigrated to Taiwan, where he has married a native Taiwanese wife and started a family. He was a talk show host for a local radio station from 1998 to 2001. In his book, Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is transforming China and Changing the Balance of Power, David Aikman claims Wu'er Kaixi converted to Christianity in 2002, but this has never been substantiated and Wu'er Kaixi himself has made no public statements about the issue of faith.
He also appears frequently on television programs as a political commentator. His standpoint has been defending the growing democracy in the island, and promoting civil society. He has often criticized the Democratic Progressive Party, leading some to consider him to be a Pan-Blue supporter. However, he is now identified as a supporter of Pan-Green politics, and have made statements strongly criticizing the KMT as well. In a June 2014 interview with the New York Times, he stated that while he was 'not a nationalist', if asked to 'choose today', he would 'join the majority of Taiwanese people here for independence. The reason Taiwanese people say we aren’t sure, we want to maintain the status quo, is that the status quo is that the mainland’s missiles aren’t dropping on our heads. That is the status quo they want to maintain. It’s not that they like the idea that Beijing claims Taiwan as part of them. It’s not so much that they like that China prevents Taiwan from entering any international arena. It’s not that they want to reserve a chance to one day go back to China. It’s not that. It’s just that we don’t want war.'
After 20 years, he is still the second most wanted person in China for his role at Tiananmen. On June 3, 2009, he arrived in Macao in transit to China intending to surrender and clear his name in court. The Macao authorities refused to arrest him and had him deported to Taiwan. In 2009, Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou praised the progress on human rights in China in his comment on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen incident of 1989. Wu'er Kaixi criticized Ma, saying that he could not understand what progress Ma was referring to. On 4 June 2010, he was arrested by the Japanese police in Tokyo, when he tried to force his way into the Chinese Embassy in order to turn himself in. He was released two days later without charge. On 18 May 2012, he tried to turn himself in the third time to the Chinese embassy in Washington DC, where the Chinese embassy decided to ignore him completely. He again attempted to turn himself in at Hong Kong in late 2013, with the same outcome as before.
In December 2013 Wu'er Kaixi helped with the launch of a Chinese version of the anonymous and ephemeral communication platform Kwikdesk.
Wu'er Kaixi's politics are strongly tied to his activism. He has ties to center-left and progressive human rights and political organizations. In Taiwan, he has "pledged to take a tougher approach to Taiwan's relations with mainland China". Despite recent open support for the Pan-Green Coalition, he still considers himself of Chinese nationality, noting that "China is the home of my parents. Taiwan is the home of my children".
In December 2014, Wu'er Kaixi announced his candidacy for the legislative seat formerly held by Lin Chia-lung, who had earlier defeated Jason Hu for the mayoralty of Taichung in the local elections. A few weeks later, Wu'er Kaixi withdrew from the race, as he felt the by-election and resulting one-year term would not be enough time to accomplish his political goals.
Wu'er Kaixi, backed by the Constitutional Reform Fraternity Coalition, launched an unsuccessful second bid for the Legislative Yuan in July 2015.
- Standoff at Tiananmen Square. Sensys Corp; 1st edition. 16 March 2009. ISBN 0-9823203-0-2.
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- Aikman, David (2003). Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Regnery Publishing. p. 11.
- Austin Ramzy (5 June 2014). "Q. and A.: Wu'er Kaixi on Tiananmen's Hopes and Taiwan's Achievements". New York Times.
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Gillis, Charles (4 June 2009). "Tiananmen: The cover-up continues". MacLeans. Canada: Rogers Media. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
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- Coonan, Clifford (25 November 2013). "Wu'er Kaixi: The Chinese dissident who can't get himself arrested - not even to go home and see his sick parents". The Independent. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- New Social Messaging Tool Taps Chinese Dissident Expansion - South China Morning Post
- "China Tiananmen dissident Wuer Kaixi bids for Taiwan seat". BBC. 24 July 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- Hau, Hsueh-ching; Wu, Lilian (1 December 2014). "Wu'er Kaixi to run in legislative by-election". Central News Agency. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Hou, Elaine; Hau, Hsueh-ching (26 December 2014). "Wu'er Kaixi drops bid for Legislature, vows to run in 2016". Central News Agency. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
- "Tiananmen Square dissident Wu'er Kaixi to stand for election to Taiwan parliament". South China Morning Post. Agence France-Presse. 25 July 2015. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
- Makinen, Julie (15 January 2016). "Heavy metaler hopes to rock the vote in Taiwan with his candidacy". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wu'erkaixi.|
- Wu'erkaixi's blog (English) and some (Chinese)
- "Mr. Wu'er Kaixi's Statement on Attempt to Turn Himself In". Initiatives for China. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2014.