Wu'erkaixi in Taipei, 2013
|Nationality||People's Republic of China (revoked)|
Republic of China
|Other names||Uerkesh Davlet, Wu'er Kaixi|
|Alma mater||Minzu University of China|
Beijing Normal University
Örkesh Dölet (Uyghur: ئۆركەش دۆلەت; alternatively transliterated Uerkesh Davlet), commonly known as Wu'erkaixi (from the Chinese pinyin spelling of his name), is a Chinese dissident of Uyghur heritage known for his leading role during the Tiananmen protests of 1989.
He was born in Beijing on 17 February 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 officials.
Protests and discussions
Wu'erkaixi 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'erkaixi to be its first president. After organizing the most successful demonstration of the 1989 movement on 27 April, 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 ..."
Wu’erkaixi claimed to have been present at the square when the soldiers arrived to clear the protesters. And publicly stated he had first hand seen 200 students cut down by gunfire in the square. However it was later proven false, as a eyewitness testimonial claimed he had left the square several hours before the events he described, plus his story version of witnessing an immediate protester massacre inside the square without mercy, was further disproven by secret US embassy cables that were obtained and released by Wikileaks in 2011.
After the protests, Wu'erkaixi 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 woman 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'erkaixi converted to Christianity in 2002, but this has never been substantiated and Wu'erkaixi 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 has 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 3 June 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'erkaixi 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.
Wu'erkaixi'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'erkaixi 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'erkaixi 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.
In 2019, Wu'erkaixi showed support for the Hong Kong protests over the China extradition bill and said he saw a connection between this current struggle and that which took place in Tiananmen Square in 1989; "The central government do not want to give its people freedom. It's an identical part [of the two events], it's the same enemy of the people that links the two demonstrations; one in Beijing 30 years ago and one in Hong Kong going on today. I think it will come to the showdown moment."
- Standoff at Tiananmen Square. Sensys Corp; 1st edition. 16 March 2009. ISBN 0-9823203-0-2.
- Xinwen Lianbo (News Simulcast) CCTV-1, 18 May 1989. Chinese text available on Chinese Wikipedia.
- "Witnessing Tiananmen: Student talks fail". BBC News. 28 May 2004.
- "Birth of a massacre myth by Gregory Clark". Japan Times.
- "The Myth of Tiananmen". Columbia Journalism Review. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
- Moore, Malcolm (4 June 2011). "Wikileaks: no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square, cables claim". ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
- 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.
- Austin Ramzy (5 June 2014). "Q. and A.: Wu'erkaixi on Tiananmen's Hopes and Taiwan's Achievements". New York Times.
- Deborah Kuo (4 June 2009). "Tiananmen student leader vows to try again to return to China".
Gillis, Charles (4 June 2009). "Tiananmen: The cover-up continues". MacLeans. Canada: Rogers Media. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
- "吾尔开希被澳门当局遣返台湾". Radio Free Asia. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- Hsiu-chuan, Shih (6 June 2010). "Wuer Kaixi held by Japanese police". Taipei Times. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "Japanese police release Tiananmen Square activist Wuer". Japan Times. 7 June 2010. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- MacLeod, Calum (18 May 2012). "In D.C., Chinese dissident hopes for arrest". USA Today. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- "Tiananmen leader gets cold-shoulder from Chinese Embassy". National Post. Agence France Press. 18 May 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
- Chen, Chien-fu (3 December 2013). "Hong Kong response to Wuerkaixi too cautious". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
- 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 Wuerkaixi 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'erkaixi 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.
- Stockwell, Stephen; Jones, Ruby (16 August 2019). "'It will come to a showdown': Tiananmen protest leader watches as Hong Kong tensions rise". ABC News. Retrieved 16 August 2019.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Wu'erkaixi.|
- Wu'erkaixi's blog (in English) and some (in Chinese)
- "Mr. Wu'er Kaixi's Statement on Attempt to Turn Himself In". Initiatives for China. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 10 December 2014.