China Dissident Chen Accepts Taiwan Visit Invitation

by
staff
Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan, Taiwanese lawmakers said Saturday, in a move likely to anger China.

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan, Taiwanese lawmakers said Saturday, in a move likely to anger China.

"Chen gladly accepts our invitation and plans to make the visit no later than the summer next year since he is currently working on several projects," lawmaker Lin Shih-chia told AFP after meeting with Chen in New York.

Chen is expected to address Taiwan's parliament as well as meet with local human rights and legal groups in a visit accompanied by his family, Lin said, adding that details are yet to be finalised.

Lin Chia-lung, another lawmaker who also visited the activist, said the trip will be hosted by civil groups in a bid to reduce "unnecessary reactions".

"Chen is a visiting scholar in the United States and we urge that his rights to travel and free expression be respected," he said.

The 40-year-old activist has been living in New York since May after a dramatic escape from house arrest to the US embassy in Beijing.

Chen was sentenced to more than four years in prison in 2006 after exposing abuses in China's one-child policy, and was then placed under house arrest upon his release in September 2010.

His escape from house arrest and his dramatic arrival at the US embassy in Beijing highlighted China's long-criticised human rights record. After high-level negotiations between US and Chinese officials, Chen was allowed to move to the United States.

China considers Taiwan part of its territory awaiting unification, even though the two sides split in 1949 after a civil war.

However, ties have improved markedly since Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou assumed power in 2008 on a Beijing-friendly platform.