Portrait of a Hooligan

From Mao's Little Red Book to embracing democracy

Wuer Kaixi. 21. A Uighur with wavy black hair, big round eyes, high cheekbones. Shown last week on Chinese television on secret videotape from a Beijing hotel that falsely suggested he was eating when he was on a hunger strike in Tiananmen Square. Wanted by the Chinese government. His crime: he was a leader of the prodemocracy movement.

Just a few months ago, Wuer was a handsome college freshman who listened to Beethoven, read classic Chinese novels and thought there was no greater adventure than riding horseback with cossack herdsmen in the cool mountains of his beloved Xinjiang autonomous region.

But...

Want the full story?

Subscribe Now

Subscribe
Subscribe

Get TIME the way you want it

  • One Week Digital Pass — $4.99
  • Monthly Pay-As-You-Go DIGITAL ACCESS$2.99
  • One Year ALL ACCESSJust $30!   Best Deal!
    Print Magazine + Digital Edition + Subscriber-only Content on TIME.com

Learn more about the benefits of being a TIME subscriber

If you are already a subscriber sign up — registration is free!