Cindy Yu Cindy Yu

‘I want to see my parents. I’ll take any deal’: the Tiananmen Square leader desperate to return to China

Wu’er Kaixi leading the student revolt in Beijing in 1989 in front of an image of Sun Yat-sen, the father of modern China. Credit: Marc DEVILLE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images


Anyone in China who remembers the Tiananmen Square protests will remember Wu’er Kaixi. As thousands of students began a hunger strike in May 1989, premier Li Peng held live, televised talks with the protest leaders. Wu’er Kaixi, then 21, turned up to the talks in hospital pyjamas, oxygen bag in tow, and berated the elderly communist leaders.

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