Wu'erkaixi

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Uerkesh Davlet
Wu'erkaixi
ئۆركەش دۆلەت
吾爾開希
Wu'erkaixi from VOA (1).jpg
Wu'erkaixi in Taipei, 2013
Born (1968-02-17) 17 February 1968 (age 53)
NationalityRepublic of China (Taiwan)
Other namesUerkesh Davlet, Wu'er Kaixi
Alma materMinzu University of China
Beijing Normal University
Spouse(s)Chen Huiling
Wu'erkaixi
Chinese name
Simplified Chinese吾尔开希·多莱特
Traditional Chinese吾爾開希·多萊特
Uyghur name
Uyghurئۆركەش دۆلەت

Örkesh Dölet (Uighur: ئۆركەش دۆلەت; alternatively transliterated Uerkesh Davlet), commonly known as Wu'erkaixi (from the pinyin spelling of his name), is a political commentator known for his leading role during the Tiananmen protests of 1989.

Of Uyghur heritage, 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.

Wu'erkaixi eventually settled in Taiwan, where he works as a political commentator. He ran unsuccessfully for a seat on the Legislative Yuan twice, in 2014 and 2016.

Protests and discussions[edit]

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.[1] 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 ..."[2][3]

Wu’erkaixi claimed that he was present at the square when the soldiers arrived after martial law was declared and that he had personally seen around 200 student protesters cut down by gunfire in Tiananmen square. However, according to the Columbia Journalism Review, all verified eyewitness accounts had attested that the students who remained in the square when troops arrived to clear them, had all been allowed to leave the square peacefully. It was later "proven" that Wu’erkaixi himself had already left the square several hours before the massacre inside the square that he claimed allegedly occurred.[4] US embassy cables obtained and released by Wikileaks in 2011 claim that while there were killings in the larger Beijing area, there were, in fact, no killings in Tiananmen Square.[5]

Post-1989[edit]

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,[6] 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.[7] 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,[8] 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.'[9]

Wu'erkaixi has expressed a strong desire to return to mainland China to see his parents, whom he has not seen since 1989 after fleeing mainland China under Operation Yellowbird. He has been unable to enter the mainland, and his parents have been unable to obtain passports to see him overseas.[10] On 3 June 2009, he arrived in Macau in transit to mainland China intending to surrender and clear his name in court. The Macao authorities refused to arrest him and had him deported to Taiwan.[11] On 4 June 2010, he was arrested by Japanese authorities in Tokyo, when he tried to force his way into the Chinese embassy in order to turn himself in.[12] He was released two days later without charge.[13] On 18 May 2012, he tried to turn himself in the third time to the Chinese embassy in Washington, where the Chinese embassy decided to ignore him completely.[14][15] He again attempted to turn himself in at Hong Kong in late 2013, and was deported to Taiwan once again.[16][17]

In December 2013, Wu'erkaixi helped with the launch of a Chinese version of the anonymous and ephemeral communication platform Kwikdesk.[18]

Politics[edit]

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".[19]

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.[20] 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.[21]

Wu'erkaixi, backed by the Constitutional Reform Fraternity Coalition, launched an unsuccessful second bid for the Legislative Yuan in July 2015.[22][23]

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."[24]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Standoff at Tiananmen Square. Sensys Corp; 1st edition. 16 March 2009. ISBN 978-0-9823203-0-3. Archived from the original on 16 July 2011. Retrieved 20 October 2009.
  2. ^ Xinwen Lianbo (News Simulcast) CCTV-1, 18 May 1989. Chinese text available on Chinese Wikipedia.
  3. ^ "Witnessing Tiananmen: Student talks fail". BBC News. 28 May 2004. Archived from the original on 5 June 2004. Retrieved 31 May 2004.
  4. ^ "The Myth of Tiananmen". Columbia Journalism Review. Archived from the original on 23 December 2016. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  5. ^ Moore, Malcolm (4 June 2011). "Wikileaks: no bloodshed inside Tiananmen Square, cables claim". Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Archived from the original on 6 April 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  6. ^ Wong, Natalie (12 July 2011) "Let down by self-centered Chai Ling" Archived 16 October 2012 at the Wayback Machine. The Standard
  7. ^ Tyler Marshall (15 January 2004). "Activist Hopes to Return to China". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 5 March 2016. Retrieved 21 February 2020.
  8. ^ Aikman, David (2003). Jesus in Beijing: How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power. Regnery Publishing. p. 11.
  9. ^ Austin Ramzy (5 June 2014). "Q. and A.: Wu'erkaixi on Tiananmen's Hopes and Taiwan's Achievements". New York Times. Archived from the original on 1 December 2017. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  10. ^ "Wu'er Kaixi: The Chinese dissident who can't get himself arrested -". The Independent. 25 November 2013. Archived from the original on 27 August 2019. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  11. ^ Deborah Kuo (4 June 2009). "Tiananmen student leader vows to try again to return to China". Archived from the original on 7 June 2009. Retrieved 4 June 2009.
    Gillis, Charles (4 June 2009). "Tiananmen: The cover-up continues". MacLeans. Canada: Rogers Media. Archived from the original on 30 November 2014. Retrieved 17 April 2015.
  12. ^ Hsiu-chuan, Shih (6 June 2010). "Wuer Kaixi held by Japanese police". Taipei Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Japanese police release Tiananmen Square activist Wuer". Japan Times. 7 June 2010. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  14. ^ MacLeod, Calum (18 May 2012). "In D.C., Chinese dissident hopes for arrest". USA Today. Archived from the original on 10 May 2013. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  15. ^ "Tiananmen leader gets cold-shoulder from Chinese Embassy". National Post. Agence France Press. 18 May 2012. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  16. ^ Chen, Chien-fu (3 December 2013). "Hong Kong response to Wuerkaixi too cautious". Taipei Times. Archived from the original on 10 December 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  17. ^ 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. Archived from the original on 19 December 2014. Retrieved 10 December 2014.
  18. ^ New Social Messaging Tool Taps Chinese Dissident Expansion - South China Morning Post, 29 November 2013, archived from the original on 13 December 2013, retrieved 11 December 2013
  19. ^ "China Tiananmen dissident Wuerkaixi bids for Taiwan seat". BBC. 24 July 2015. Archived from the original on 22 January 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  20. ^ Hau, Hsueh-ching; Wu, Lilian (1 December 2014). "Wu'er Kaixi to run in legislative by-election". Central News Agency. Archived from the original on 2 December 2014. Retrieved 2 December 2014.
  21. ^ Hou, Elaine; Hau, Hsueh-ching (26 December 2014). "Wu'er Kaixi drops bid for Legislature, vows to run in 2016". Central News Agency. Archived from the original on 26 December 2014. Retrieved 26 December 2014.
  22. ^ "Tiananmen Square dissident Wu'erkaixi to stand for election to Taiwan parliament". South China Morning Post. Agence France-Presse. 25 July 2015. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016. Retrieved 17 January 2016.
  23. ^ Makinen, Julie (15 January 2016). "Heavy metaler hopes to rock the vote in Taiwan with his candidacy". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 6 April 2016. Retrieved 9 April 2016.
  24. ^ Stockwell, Stephen; Jones, Ruby (16 August 2019). "'It will come to a showdown': Tiananmen protest leader watches as Hong Kong tensions rise". ABC News. Archived from the original on 16 August 2019. Retrieved 16 August 2019.

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