Chen Guangcheng

Taiwan to invite Chen Guangcheng for visit

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 29 August, 2012, 6:58pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

Taiwan’s main opposition party plans to invite blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to the island, hoping he will address parliament, lawmakers said on Wednesday, in a move likely to anger Beijing.

Lin Chia-lung, a legislator of the China-sceptic Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), said he will meet Chen on Friday in New York, his home since May after a dramatic escape from house arrest to the US embassy in Beijing.

“I’ll deliver an invitation on behalf of the DPP caucus, inviting him to visit Taiwan and address legislators,” Lin said.

“My understanding is that Chen has voiced a desire to go to Taiwan,” he said, adding that he hopes Chen, if he agrees, could make his visit coincide with World Human Rights Day on December 10.

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

The 40-year-old activist’s escape from house arrest and his dramatic arrival at the US embassy in Beijing highlighted the mainland’s long-criticised human rights record. After high-level negotiations between US and Chinese officials, Chen was allowed to move to the United States.

“The DPP has long been concerned about human rights, which is a universal issue. Taiwan people will be better able to understand the current human rights in China if Chen can visit Taiwan,” Lin said.

Taiwan’s ruling Kuomintang party, which has pursued a Beijing-friendly agenda since attaining power in 2008, questioned the motivation behind the DPP’s wish to invite Chen to address parliament.

“We welcome any people from the mainland, including Chen, to Taiwan. But why invite him to speak to parliament? There is no precedent for that,” said Wu Yu-sheng, the head of the Kuomintang caucus in parliament.

He declined to speculate if a visit by Chen would undermine the detente launched by the Kuomintang.