Tiananmen dissident delays bid to run for lawmaker in Taiwan

TAIPEI - A leading dissident who fled China after pro-democracy protests were crushed in 1989 said Friday he will postpone plans to stand for Taiwan's parliament by a year.

Wuer Kaixi, who has been barred from the mainland since fleeing after the bloody Tiananmen crackdown and has been living in exile in Taiwan since 1996, had planned to run in a February 7 parliamentary by-election in the hopes of dealing a "big blow" to Beijing.

But Wuer decided to withdraw from the February race in favour of the general parliamentary elections in 2016, saying he needs more time to "present my views, begin dialogues and seek support" for his campaign bid.

"I decided to run in the election as I saw Taiwan's current most pressing challenges - one involving deepening its democracy and one involving cross-strait relations and I believe that I can contribute to Taiwan in the two issues," he said in a statement.

"But I've realised that I cannot achieve such goals in just two short months and in the format of a by-election." The by-election is to fill the seat vacated by Lin Chia-lung from the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party after he was elected mayor of central Taichung city in November's local polls.

Wuer was number two on the Chinese government's "most-wanted" list of protesters following the military's crackdown on the Tiananmen pro-democracy demonstrations, which left hundreds, possibly thousands, dead.

Wuer, who works as a businessman and a political commentator in Taiwan, had made several failed attempts to return to China in recent years to see his ailing parents.

He has said that it would be a "big blow" and a "huge humiliation" to China's ruling Communist party if he were to be elected as a lawmaker in Taiwan.