China Tiananmen dissident Wuer Kaixi bids for Taiwan seat

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Former student leader in the protests of 1989, Wuer Kaixi, speaks in front of a mock Tiananmen Square backdropImage source, AP
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Exiled Chinese dissident Wuer Kaixi pledged to "deepen the democracy of Taiwan"

A Chinese democracy activist who was among the leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests has announced he will run for a seat in Taiwan's parliament.

Wuer Kaixi, who fled China after the protests, pledged to fight for human rights and justice in his adopted home.

He pledged to take a tougher approach to Taiwan's relations with mainland China, from which the island split in 1949, at the end of the civil war.

Mr Wuer, 47, is standing as an independent candidate.

He has, however, reportedly made a deal with a rival candidate from the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), which backs Taiwan's continuing independence from China.

Whichever of the two has the least support will endorse the other in a bid to unseat the incumbent from the governing pro-China Nationalist Party, also known as the Kuomintang (KMT).

Taiwan will elect a new president and parliament in January. The DPP is expected to win.

"The KMT needs to be normalised. It is an enormous monster," said Mr Wuer.

"The biggest mission in this campaign is to deepen the democracy of Taiwan," he added.

'Home of my children'

Mr Wuer fled China after the military crushed the 1989 student protests, killing hundreds. Unable to return home, he married a Taiwanese woman and settled on the island in 1996.

Announcing his campaign on Friday, for a seat in the central city of Taichung, he said there was no contradiction between his Chinese roots and a commitment to Taiwanese democracy.

"China is the home of my parents. Taiwan is the home of my children,'' he said.

"My standpoint, my view, my idea of promoting democracy and freedom for my homes has been consistent."

Taiwan has been independent since 1949, when China's defeated Nationalist government fled to the island as Mao Zedong swept to power. However, China claims sovereignty over the island.

A long-standing tension between the two countries has eased in recent years, leading to fears among some in Taiwan over China's influence.

In March 2014, hundreds of young activists, dubbed the Sunflower Movement, occupied Taiwan's parliament building in an unprecedented protest against a trade pact aimed at forging closer ties with Beijing.