Wu'erkaixi (born 17 February 1968) is a Uyghur student who led the Tiananmen protests of 1989. He was born in Beijing, with the origin of Yili, Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Uyghur ethnicity. 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, very beginning of the student movement, after he 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..."