Where Are the Tiananmen Leaders Now? (Part 1)

Jun 04, 2011
*Special to asia!
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Some discovered Jesus, and others wealth and success on Wall Street. A handful are on Twitter where one of them tells of how he was entrapped by his wife, a Chinese undercover spy. Here are the 21 most wanted leaders of the Tiananmen uprising, 22 years later.

1. Wang Dan 王丹

Top of the list is the former history major from the Chinese capital's prestigious Beijing University who calls himself an ”incurable idealist”.

924 Wang Dan (Photo: Taekwonweirdo @ Flickr)

Wang Dan was arrested in July 1989 and sentenced to two years' imprisonment in 1991. After he was released, Wang continued to criticise the Chinese government on its human rights record. He was arrested again in 1996 and sentenced to 11 years for “subversion of state power”. He was released in 1998 on medical grounds and sent to the United States. In 2008, he received his PhD in History from Harvard University, and is currently a visiting assistant professor at the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Taiwan's Tsinghua University.

In one of his most recent interviews, Wang said that though China continues to arrest dissidents such as Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波) and Ai Weiwei (艾未未), it should not be concluded pessimistically that democracy will not be fulfilled in China. After all, every democracy movement will meet with repeated obstacles and repression, and take a tumultuous path.

However he disagrees with the Western school of thought that once a country attains a certain level of affluence, people will demand for democratic reforms. According to him, China's economic growth is built on a different model, one created on the basis of social injustice. The more rapidly China's economy grows, the greater the hindrance to democracy.

Wang can be found on Facebook and Twitter.


2. Wuer Kaixi 吾尔开希

In a commentary on the revolutions that swept through the Middle East, Wuer Kaixi wrote:


“The bravery of the Arab people is a reminder, an impetus and an encouragement to the Chinese people. It reminds the Chinese people that the wave of democracy in the past 20 years that was started by the Chinese remains an unfinished business in China...”

Originally from the Xinjiang Autonomous Region, Wuer Kaixi was studying education at the Beijing Normal University. Together with Wang and other leaders, he launched a hunger strike that finally got the attention of the Chinese leadership.

Demanding dialogue signifies that the people have the right to speak on equal terms with the government...

After the June 4 crackdown on Tiananmen, Wuer fled to France and later to the United States, before finally settling now in Taiwan. The 43-year-old has now been in exile for more than 20 years.

On June 4 last year, he tried to turn himself in at the Chinese embassy in Tokyo, but was instead detained by the Japanese police. According to him, he was seeking dialogue with the Chinese authorities, just like what they were after back in 1989.

On his blog, he wrote:


“Demanding dialogue signifies that the people have the right to speak on equal terms with the government, to express opinions that are different from the government's; you can call it the core of democracy.”

He also spoke of the Charter 08, the manifesto signed by more than 300 Chinese intellectuals and co-authored by his friend and teacher 2010 Nobel Laureate Liu Xiaobo, currently serving a jail term in China for it.

Turning himself in, said Wuer, was his way of telling the Chinese government that pro-democracy activists are not afraid, and would join Liu in jail.

Wuer Kaixi tweets at https://twitter.com/#!/wuerkaixi and writes in English and Mandarin at https://wuerkaixi.com.


3. Liu Gang 刘刚

Like a chapter right out of a spy novel, the story has been unfolding the past week on Twitter. Liu Gang says his wife Guo Yinghua is an undercover spy sent by the Chinese government.

According to Liu, Guo contacted him via the Internet. She presented herself as a graduate of a top American business school and a manager at a major U.S. firm. The two met two days later, and Guo immediately proposed that they marry.

He agreed and she soon moved in with him. By his own admission the relationship was off to a bad start. At her request he bought her a car and a 1.47 carat diamond ring from Tiffany, worth US$25,000. She later brought it back to the store, and exchanged it for a 2.18 carat one which cost him US$35,000. Her reasoning was that 1-4-7 was inauspicious-sounding in Chinese. To pay off the expenses, he had to borrow money from a friend and eventually sell off one of his two houses.

... she is a military spy sent by Beijing.

They were married later that year, and had a baby in December 2008. According to Liu, their married life was marked with her extending control over all his finances, domestic violence on her part which led him to be locked up and hauled into court.

Apart from descriptions of her perfect marksmanship and various payments received allegedly from China, Liu also reproduced on his blog documents to support his allegations that she is a military spy sent by Beijing.

The two have filed for divorce.

After he was imprisoned for four years for his involvement in the Tiananmen Uprising, Liu fled to Hong Kong in 1996. From there, he left for the United States where he received his PhD from Columbia University. In 2005, Liu organised a memorial service when Zhao Ziyang, the Chinese leader who had been sympathetic to the demonstrators, died.

Liu Gang, who now works on Wall Street, tweets at https://twitter.com/#!/LiuGang8964 and blogs at 反超限战.


4. Chai Ling 柴玲

Chai Ling fled China for France and arrived in the U.S. where she attended both Princeton and Harvard universities.

dan-chyi chua

Dan-Chyi Chua was a broadcast journalist, before forsaking Goggle Box Glitz for the Open Road. A three-year foray led her through the Middle East, China, SE Asia, Latin America and Cuba, and she's now grounded herself as a writer for theasiamag.com, content with spending her days in Jerusalem.

Contact Dan-Chyi