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Talk of the Day -- Blind activist looks forward to visiting Taiwan

2012/05/11 23:23:13

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese legal advocate who captured the world's attention recently by evading China's oppressive security apparatus and escaping from illegal house arrest, has expressed his desire to visit Taiwan, a local newspaper reported Friday.

Chen said in a telephone interview with the United Daily News' correspondent in Beijing a day earlier that he also hopes to see the two sides of the Taiwan Strait engage in human rights dialogue.

Chen, who is now recuperating in a Beijing hospital after takingrefuge for six days in the U.S. Embassy and is waiting for permission to travel to the United States, further told the correspondent that he has not yet received any response from the Chinese authorities about his passport application.

After days of difficult negotiations earlier this month, the U.S. government has secured a promise from the Chinese government to allow Chen to go to New York City for study. But it remains unclear if Beijing will uphold its commitment.

The following are excerpts from a special report in the Friday edition of the United Daily News on the interview with the courageous Chinese human rights activist:

Chen, who has been a symbol of courage and defiance, said in the interview with this paper that human rights protection is the basis for development of rule of law and democracy.

The 40-year-old self-trained lawyer had been under extralegal house arrest since 2010 after spending four-and-a-half years in jail simply for defending women in rural towns in Shandong Province who were forced to undergo abortions or sterilizations in a misguided application of China's one-child family planning policy.

Chen said human rights are closely related with human dignity, both of which are uncompromising core values.

Asked whether he expects Taiwan's President Ma Ying-jeou to talk about human rights issues in his May 20 inauguration speech, Chen said he does not expect Ma to address any specific subject.

"What I want to listen is his true mind. I don't want to see him speak what others want him to say," Chen stressed in the interview.

He suggested that Taiwan people can bring up some human rights issues to which Ma can respond in his inauguration speech.

On Taiwanese Mainland Affairs Minister Lai Shing-yuan's recent remarks that Taiwan will express its concerns about China's human rights conditions in cross-strait talks, Chen said it remains to be seen whether such a move would have any impact on China's policy making.

"But anyway, Taiwan's willingness to touch on such a sensitive topic is a positive development," Chen said.

Asked about his view on significant progress in cross-strait engagement in the economic field over the past four years, Chen said he hopes to see parallel advancement in both economic exchanges and human rights dialogue across the Taiwan Strait.

Noting that social progress relies more on intellectual and cultural development than economic growth, Chen said Taiwan and China should increase dialogue in human rights, social and cultural issues for people's well-being.

If opportunity presents itself, Chen said, he earnestly hopes to make a trip around Taiwan to get first-hand encounter with its people. (May 11, 2012).

(By Sofia Wu)