Tiananmen activist eyes seat in Taipei Parliament

Ethnic Uighur Wu'er Kaixi made Taichung city his adopted home in 1996 after fleeing China in 1989.
Ethnic Uighur Wu'er Kaixi made Taichung city his adopted home in 1996 after fleeing China in 1989.PHOTO: REUTERS

TAICHUNG (Taiwan) • Twenty-six years after Mr Wu'er Kaixi stood with young comrades to stare down People's Liberation Army tanks in Tiananmen Square, the democracy activist has his sights set on winning a seat in Taiwan's Parliament.

Taiwan votes for a new president and legislature next January, and expectations are growing that the main opposition pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) will win by a wide margin.

The former student activist fled China after the pro-democracy protests were crushed in 1989.

Mr Wu'er, a Taiwan citizen of almost 20 years, has struck a gentlemen's agreement with a DPP rival , in which the one with less support will endorse the other in a bid to unseat the incumbent from the ruling China-friendly Kuomintang (KMT) in a central Taiwan district.

The ethnic Uighur made Taichung his adopted home in 1996.

Mr Wu'er, 47, who officially launched his campaign for a legislative seat yesterday, called on the island's government to stand up to Beijing, accusing the authorities of "self-censorship" in their approach to Beijing. He said he would push for Taiwan to amend its Constitution so it clearly reflected mainland China and Taiwan as separate entities.

"Actively changing the Constitution... will come at a small price and will also give a voice to the people, challenging China and the West to release Taiwan from its shackles," he added. REUTERS,

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 25, 2015, with the headline 'Tiananmen activist eyes seat in Taipei Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe