Wu'erkaixi (Chinese: 吾尔开希; pinyin: Wú'ěrkāixī; Uyghur: ئۆركەش دۆلەت Örkesh Dölet), also known as Wuer Kaixi or Örkesh Dölet in Uyghur, is a Chinese dissident known for his role during the Tiananmen protests of 1989. An ethnic Uyghur, he was born in Beijing on February 17, 1968 with ancestral roots in Ili, Xinjiang. He achieved prominence while studying at Beijing Normal University as a hunger striker who rebuked Chinese Premier Li Peng on national television. He now resides in Taiwan as a political commentator.
Protests and discussions
Wu'erkaixi arrived on 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 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'erkaixi 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'erkaixi 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'erkaixi 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'erkaixi was put on China's list of people most wanted for the demonstrations. 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 2002, fellow Christian dissident Zhang Boli baptized Wu'erkaixi.
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. Because of his strong criticism of the Democratic Progressive Party, he was seen as a Pan Blue supporter, as the DPP is the dominant Pan Green party. He has also been reported[by whom?] as a "reunificationist" who supports the idea of "One China Under Democracy" (that is, the reunification of China and Taiwan under a democratic political system, which has been touted by the Pan-Blue Coalition in the past).
He has written many articles in Chinese and English and was published by prominent media including the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, and Far Eastern Economic Review. His essay "China Mocks the Spirits of the Olympics" has won the Human Rights Press Awards Special Merit Award. He has worked as CEO of an internet Chinese article digest and portal company[which?], vice general manager of an internet based broadcasting company[which?], COO of an internet incubation company[which?], and co-founder of a multimedia management software company[which?]. In 2006, he was recruited by an international investment fund[which?] to run their Taiwan based Asia Pacific operation for his high tech corporate finance background.
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 Tian'anmen incident of 1989. Wu'erkaixi criticized the comment of Ma, saying that he could not understand what progress on human rights Ma meant. On June 4, 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.[dead link] On 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.
- Standoff at Tiananmen Square. Sensys Corp; 1st edition. 16 March 2009. ISBN 0-9823203-0-2.
- Xinwenlianbo CCTV1, 18 May 1989. Chinese text available on Chinese Wikipedia.
- "Witnessing Tiananmen: Student talks fail". BBC News. 28 May 2004.
- Wong, Natalie (12 July 2011) "Let down by self-centered Chai Ling". The Standard
- Tyler Marshall (15 January 2004). "Activist Hopes to Return to China". Los Angeles Times.
- Aikman, David (2003). Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Regnery Publishing. p. 11.
- Deborah Kuo (4 June 2009). "Tiananmen student leader vows to try again to return to China".
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wu'erkaixi.|
- Wu'erkaixi's blog (English) and some (Chinese)
- Witnessing Tiananmen: Student talks fail - BBC interview