a joint statement in support of the paris climate change agreement. president trump, a well known climate change sceptic, is set to announce whether america will withdraw from the accord later on thursday. theresa may's political rivals have criticised her for not taking part in a televised, party leaders election debate. the conservatives were represented by home secretary amber rudd. the event was marked by fractious exchanges on immigration, security, and the future of public services. world leaders have condemned the massive bomb attack in kabul. the afghan president, ashraf ghani, described it as a crime against humanity. at least 90 people, most of them civilians, died in the blast during the morning rush hour. over 400 others were injured. now it's time for hardtalk. welcome to a special edition of hardtalk,
with me, stephen sackur. today, the bbc is running a series of programmes about democracy, the idea and the reality. it's a theme our guest today has reason to consider in great depth. wu'erkaixi was one of the leaders of the tiananmen square student protest in beijing in 1989. he became one of the chinese government's most wanted men. he escaped, and he now lives in exile in taiwan. and today, hejoins me, and a hardtalk audience here in london. applause. wu'er kaixi, welcome to hardtalk. thank you very much. we could use more platforms like this to voice our ideas. well, i want to talk to you all about your ideas. and i want to begin by taking you back to 1989. you made a stand as a student leader for freedom and for democracy.
and looking back at it now, it has cost you your life as you knew it then in 1989. on a personal level, do you have any regrets? well, i survived in a great movement and i'm proud to be part of it. but it ended up as a massacre. regret can sometimes be an understatement. i don't thing i have done anything wrong, and i'm actually very proud to be part of that historical event. but if you ask me the question the other way, if you ask me, do i want to do it again? the answer would be very hesitant because of the outcome, the result. it is nothing we have anticipated. yeah, that sort of what i was driving at. if you had a crystal ball, and could have seen into the future, and what happened to your futures
and to your country, post—1989, would you have made the decision to go on hunger strike, to be one of the leaders going on to stages and demanding of the ruling party that they change and they deliver a democratic vision? or if you'd seen into the future, would you have thought, "it's not worth it"? yeah, the logic of all mass movements throughout history has always been like when people have a dissatisfaction, they come together, they express their voice, they try to apply pressure to the opponent, to the government, to the ruling party. and then hoping that they can take the better option, knowing there could always be some worse options that they take. and in china, that has often been the case. but how bad it can be we did not anticipate, massacre, bringing tanks, hundreds of thousands of troops, under siege, the whole beijing city under siege. and in my personal account, i mean, yes, we paid a great price.
i have not been able to see my parents, my family, for the last 25, 26 years. it is a great price to pay, but my price doesn't even compare with those who lost their life that night, hundreds if not thousands of them. let's go back to those days of may and june, 1989, then we will look forward to where china is today and where it's going. but if we go to 1989, here is an interesting thought that ihad. you were using this word "democracy" at the time, and yet you were a child of a one—party state. yes. you were brought up in the country created by chairman mao. yes. how on earth did you know what democracy was? well, first of all, the communist party never really denied the term of democracy. and in fact, the word democracy in chinese translated back into english is people rule.
so, hey, that's a great idea, people rule. and the communist party keep saying it is democracy. didn't chairman mao call it the people's democratic dictatorship? yes! to be totally honest, yes. we do not know much about democracy, other than the face value of the term. other than some gigs that we had in the last ten years before 1989, ten years we looked at the west. what the real driving force that brought us to the streets of beijing in 1989 was not so much our knowledge, deep knowledge of democracy, it's our deep knowledge of lack of democracy. we know what it is than when we don't have democracy. and you were from a relatively privileged background. you were a guy that had the chance of a higher education in a beijing university. in a way, i'm surprised that you were prepared to risk everything
back in 1989, because there must have been a lot of fear. you knew the party was not going to easily accept what you were saying. again, we wanted to apply pressure, so hopefully they can take the better option. yes, we were privileged. all university students in china in 1989 will be somehow considered privileged, because the college examination entrance rate is insanely low, something like 1%. and then, those of us who made it, we are almost guaranteed a position in society, but guaranteed by somebody else, never by ourselves. we did not want our life to be managed, to be handled, to be designed by someone else. after deng xiaoping came to power in 1979, ten years, he introduced the idea of reform and openness. he didn't really open china in 1989, he didn't opene the door, he opened the window,
and gave just a glimpse of. through that, we saw an idea of controlling one's life by himself, by herself. and that is very attractive. and that's something we don't have. so that attraction overcame yourfear? i would say so, yes. that attraction is simply called hope. that is something that would overcome anything. let me ask you something specific, the chinese nation, i think, will always associate you with one particular moment, you and if you are the student leaders were invited to the great hall of the people for a televised meeting with one of the party chiefs of the time, li peng. it was supposed to be
a sign that the party hierarchy was listening. but when you got there, you didn'tjust sort of obediently accept and pay respects to li peng, you interrupted him. you said, "sir, with all due respect, this meeting has come a month too late." and you said, "we should be setting the agenda, not you." that was extraordinarily confrontational. it was the 30th, 40th day of the student movement. yes, we were on hunger strike, of course it was confrontational. with all due respect, i think we invited them for that location. you said they invited us over, that is not what we had in mind. we asked for li peng to come out and have dialogue. that has always been the keyword of 1989, we wanted that dialogue. eventually, we were asked to go to the place, to sit with them, so we thought, maybe this is the dialogue. but no, it wasn't a dialogue. it was a monologue. it was a lecturing.
it was condescending, it's showing a message to the chinese people that we students went too far. the hierarchies there were giving us some lecturing, like some lesson. but that cannot be televised to the chinese people, because that would be a wrong message. what happened, really, is, after 20, 30, a0 days, with the pressure, something is happening. and this happened, and then this cannot be interpreted into something else. do you think it made any difference, that image of you sort of treating li peng as an equal, not as some superior being on the top of the party, but as an equal. do you think, whatever happened after 11th ofjune, 1989, in china, that image and that moment still matters? in two aspects, number one, it made an influence for the decision the communist party made when we are talking about massacre. about tanks moving in? yes, i don't think so. the meeting, the set for the occasion was basically part
of the whole plan. before that day, they had no plan. they didn't know how to deal with this. they did not know when the world, the troops of world journalists coming to china to cover the summit between china and the soviets, walking to a revolution, then they broadcast the image to the world. then the pressure was enormous. then the whole societies stood up to support the students. they had no anticipation of this. so they had no movement until that day. when that happened, when li peng agreed to meet with us, the whole plan, the decision was made already. that is how communists operate. and you have used this word, massacre. of course. a word, which the chinese government refuses to accept, but i want you to tell me what... even 25—years on, recollect your feelings when you realised that it was happening, the tanks were rolling
into tiananmen square, the light and edition was used, and hundreds, some say thousands, of your peers, students, protesters, some onlookers as well, were being killed. the term massacre, of course, has been attached to who i am in the last 20 something years, so there were a few occasions i looked into the dictionary for this word. excuse me. it is like killing indiscriminately, every dictionary you look in, you will find the same answer for that. that is what it is. troops roll in, they have agenda, they need to clear tiananmen square, and whoever is in their way, they were given a green light to use real ammunition. and they did. did you escape early? i was in the square. the square itself was not
really the killing field. it was the avenues leading into it? yes. when the troops came to tiananmen square, liu xiaobo negotiated a term with the troops to avoid massacre at the square. for him to get the nobel peace prize, this is definitely one of the most important conditions, i believe. did you try to speak to any of the soldiers yourself? no. i was, earlier, i went to one of the front line on the east side, trying to see what's happening there, but it was way too chaotic, there was no way to speak to anybody at the time. the shooting has already begun. i've seen people shot down. and the voice of bullets travelling in the air is something that i can still remember vividly. people's blood, the smell of the people's blood also, that is a bona fides massacre, so. did you believe you would get out alive? no, i did not believe this.
after the massacre, there were rumours afterjune the 11th day, we were hiding in cities. for me, the idea is for me to turn myself in. but there were rumours in beijing to say, wang dan, ok, number one most wanted. they want him alive. that is the order given to the soldiers and police. wu'erkaixi, they don't want me alive. the rumour, of course, there is no way to verify that, but that sounds like the communist party. so i don't even see a chance to turn myself in. so i decided to leave beijing city. maybe outside of beijing, i can manage to be arrested by police, instead of soldiers. and then maybe by doing that, i can maintain some dignity at a personal level. you escape, and made it to the west, and eventually to taiwan, and we are going to pick
up your story back in taiwan. but now, i want to reflect a little bit on the meaning of 1989 and tiananmen for today's china. today's leaders in china still believe the chaos, what they see as the chaos, and the mob rule in beijing injune 1989 is one of the best justifications for them maintaining their 1—party rule on the country today, because they are the guarantors of stability and security for the great mass of chinese people. and they say nobody, nobody wants to go back to the crazy, awful days of tiananmen. what is your response to that? didn't we hear that from time to time from leaders around the world ? they have to remain in power to provide safety and stability. they are the source of china's chaos. and not only in tiananmen, not only in 1989, but in the last 60 some years.
but does not a pattern of events that we've seen, for example, in the middle east since 2011 support their case, their case being that in the end you need a strong, central government that is capable of imposing its will on the country, to deliver security? because when you lose that, you can point to egypt, you can point to syria, or to yemen, or a host of other arab countries after the popular uprisings, when you lose that, you introduce chaos, and then ethnic tensions, and then internal violence on a scale that in china could only be imagined. yet 750 years ago, you decided to adopt democracy. i am quite sure in the early days of the beginning of democracy it was quite chaotic in this country. and then you manage to prevail.
and give them time. they need time. they need support. they need patting on the shoulder. "you are doing good, you are doing better than yesterday". not to accuse the price they had to pay for democratisation. but suppose the argument would be that far from paying a price over the past 30 years, the chinese people have reaped the reward of stability. we see the most extraordinary improvement of material living standards known in human history. 600 million people lifted out of poverty by the communist rule inside china. today's president says, china cannot copy the political system or development model of other countries. it would not affect us. it would lead to catastrophic consequences.
his message, with us you get to prosperity. in the early years of the last century, hitler was saying the same thing. with the centralised nazi rule in germany after the war. providing more jobs, stability, getting rid of poverty. now the world needs to give them what we want. are you seriously comparing today's chinese government with the nazis? iam not, i am comparing the british. i am comparing the british in the 1930s with british people today. that is called appeasement. we have had democracy and we have always had enemies. they come in different forms and different shapes. the nazis, the communists, they are both the enemy of democracy. and when we are facing the enemy of democracy, sometimes we make major mistakes.
this country remembers that mistake vividly. i am seeing it again. i guess it depends on what you think democracy is for. an influential diplomat, an ambassador in singapore who has written books about what he calls particular asian models of development, he says in the west we are too hung up on the process and mechanism of democracy. he says what matters is a government that delivers for the people, it does not need to be democratic in the western and individualistic sense. because it is delivering for the mass of the people. on those terms, the chinese government is delivering for its people. you are using the word of the singapore ambassador, that is the understanding of the western democracy world, that delivering is
what is most important. i would go back to the 20s and 30s to hitler. every time i say hitler, people say that, how about mussolini? people say he is not as bad, not as evil. but he was providing, the one leader who was almost a modern caesar. people remember him as the one who makes the trains go on time. i was in italy, people asked me do we need to learn from china today, because italy is in trouble. i say, you learn from china, why don't you learn from mussolini? they understood. maybe you are exaggerating repression in china.
in china today, you see protest movements. if you read the internet, people have the space to criticise local officials. xi jinping and his senior colleagues have responded to the frustration with corruption in china by launching a massive anticorruption drive with officials being brought down because the public is demanding a cleaner government. something is happening in china. something is always happening in that massive country. when the western world thinks of the term corruption, the idea comes your mind as you have corruption in your democracies. that is bribery, that is money exchanging with the government. it is like nothing compared with the corruption happening in china. xi jinping has the least interest in
getting rid of systemic corruption. the government is corruption. china before reform, there was a so—called socialist country. they looted the former republic of china. the got all of the capitalist property in the government. when they introduced at the time reform and then privatised it, who was benefited? the communist party ruling group. that is the corruption. xi jinping cannot get rid of that. he is getting rid of a couple of overly done corruption. we have seen protests in hong kong, thousands of people on the streets. it did not really get anywhere. it is an ongoing movement. let us look at the future. what do you see happening in china in terms of developing a mass demand for real political reform?
the communist party do not know how to face, they are not used to facing people's demand. they do not know how to do it, they do not know what to do. we wanted a dialogue in 1989. the dialogue has been the central phrase. tibet wants dialogue. hong kong wants dialogue. they even decided to get their own flight to beijing to have a dialogue. the chinese government said, no dialogue. and you have tried to return to your homeland several times. you have said, arrest me and then take me back to my homeland. and then i can continue that dialogue in the courtroom of china. even in the form of indictment.
are you serious about that? despite the comfortable life in taiwan, you would rather go back to your homeland to face a court and make your case for democracy? and then i could see my parents, at least in the form of a prison visit. to continue unfinished business. i remember one of our respected teachers back in 1989 who was in the street and supporting us. now she is a dissident in china. she says if you are not in prison, there is something morally wrong. iam moved. can there be democracy in china? in your lifetime? absolutely.
i have to be optimistic. i watched one of the early bbc shows interviewing the mahatma gandhi. he was optimistic. thank you very much. good morning. london may not have been the sunniest place across the country, yesterday, but it was the warmest, with highs ofjust over 23 degrees. i expect, though, over the next couple of days, the south—east will get very warm, if not hot, as we drag in this warm air in from the near continent. but this fellow here,
this slow—moving weather front, will bring a contrast to the far north and west. it will be a mild start for all, some mist around, particularly close to the coast. but that weather front, a slow—moving affair, and will bring rain into northern ireland and scotland, lingering for much of the day. cloud, largely dry, and more in the way of sunshine across the extreme south. sp despite a little bit afternoon cloud into the south—west part of wales, temperatures still reasonable — 18—22 degrees. highs of 25 widely in the south—east corner, and stretching into the north of england. a different day, unfortunately, for the north—west, in the lake district, isle of man, northern ireland and western scotland. here, it will stay cloudy and wet for much of the day, with a scattering of showers into the far north—east as well. now that weather front, almost like a conveyor belt of rain sitting across the irish sea, affecting the western fringes of wales.
to the south and east of that, it stays sticky through the night. a milder feel with widely mid teens across the country. it does mean that on friday, we gradually start to see change. a level of uncertainty as to how quickly that weather front moves eastwards. hopefully improving through scotland through the day. the front sitting through the spine of the country by the middle of the afternoon. it stays very warm, if not hot, in the south—east. 27 degrees, that's 80 fahrenheit — much fresher conditions beginning to follow behind. that is the general theme as we move into the weekend. some significant thunderstorms are likely across the near continent but the wind direction moves to a fresher westerly feel. a good deal of dry weather with a scattering of showers for the weekend, but look at the difference. 16 or 17 in the north—west, highs ofjust 22 in the south—east corner. a similar story into sunday. fresh with a scatter of showers and a touch of breeze.
in case you don't have the message, this is the story for the weekend. a scattering of showers and a fresh feel for all. take care. this is bbc news. i'm kasia madera. our top stories: counting down to a key decision on climate change. is president trump about to pull out of the world's biggest agreement? theresa may's rivals criticise her for missing a televised election debate, one that was marked by fractious exchanges on immigration and the future of britain's public services. world leaders condemn the massive bomb attack in kabul. at least 90 are dead, 400 wounded. the afghan president calls it a crime against humanity. and i'm ben bland. challenging america first. the european union and china are hoping to forge even closer ties at a summit in brussels today. the aim, to counter president trump's stand on trade and climate change. another day, another political crisis in brazil.