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Title: Wu'erkaixi  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Tiananmen Square protests of 1989, Operation Yellowbird, April 26 Editorial, Chinese democracy activists, Fall of Communism
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia


Taipei, 2013
Born (1968-02-17) 17 February 1968
Beijing, China
Alma mater Minzu University of China
Beijing Normal University
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 吾爾開希•多萊特
Simplified Chinese 吾尔开希•多莱特
Uyghur name
ئۆركەش دۆلەت

Örkesh Dölet (Uyghur: ئۆركەش دۆلەت), commonly known as Wu'erkaixi (simplified Chinese: 吾尔开希; traditional Chinese: 吾爾開希; pinyin: Wú'ěrkāixī), is a Chinese dissident 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 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.[1] 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..."[2][3]


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,[4] 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.[5]

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. But 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.' [6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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.[10]

In December 2013 Wu'erkaixi helped with the launch of a Chinese version of the anonymous and ephemeral communication platform Kwikdesk.[11]

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.[12]


  1. ^ Standoff at Tiananmen Square. Sensys Corp; 1st edition. 16 March 2009.  
  2. ^ Xinwen Lianbo (News Simulcast) CCTV-1, 18 May 1989. Chinese text available on Chinese WorldHeritage.
  3. ^ "Witnessing Tiananmen: Student talks fail". BBC News. 28 May 2004. 
  4. ^ Wong, Natalie (12 July 2011) "Let down by self-centered Chai Ling". The Standard
  5. ^ Tyler Marshall (15 January 2004). "Activist Hopes to Return to China". Los Angeles Times. 
  6. ^ Austin Ramzy (5 June 2014). "Q. and A.: Wu’er Kaixi on Tiananmen’s Hopes and Taiwan’s Achievements". New York Times. 
  7. ^ Deborah Kuo (4 June 2009). "Tiananmen student leader vows to try again to return to China". 
  8. ^ %27simplified%27,%20%27[%27 "吾尔开希被澳门当局遣返台湾"]. Radio Free Asia. 4 June 2009. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  9. ^
  10. ^ Chen, Chien-fu (3 December 2013). "Hong Kong response to Wuer Kaixi too cautious". Taipei Times. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 
  11. ^ New Social Messaging Tool Taps Chinese Dissident Expansion - South China Morning Post 
  12. ^ Hau, Hsueh-ching; Wu, Lilian (1 December 2014). "Wu'er Kaixi to run in legislative by-election". Central News Agency. Retrieved 2 December 2014. 

External links

  • Wu'erkaixi's blog (English) and some (Chinese)
  • Witnessing Tiananmen: Student talks fail - BBC interview
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