Activist Chen Chuangcheng arrives in Taiwan

Visit to be used as platform to attack China’s human rights record

Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese rights activist who fled to the US after escaping house arrest in China last year, arrived in self-ruled Taiwan yesterday and warned Beijing that efforts to crush opposition forces or suppress human rights were doomed to fail.

Mr Chen is on a two-week visit to Taiwan. His visit is certain to irritate Beijing as activists there will use it as a platform from which to attack China’s human rights record. He is scheduled to speak in parliament and meet members of the opposition and human rights groups.

His visit is being hosted by the Association for China Human Rights, which has described it as “a trip for freedom and human rights”.

At a news conference yesterday, Mr Chen accused Beijing of spending billions of dollars annually to monitor dissidents and activists and jail them if they refused to stop advocacy.


“No other regimes in the world have feared or monitored their own people in such a way,” he said, adding that he believed the rapidly growing desires for freedoms and human rights among the Chinese would eventually “put an end to the authoritarian rule” in China.

Blind since birth, Mr Chen is a self-taught “barefoot” lawyer who published reports on forced abortions and other rights transgressions in his hometown. He was jailed on trumped-up traffic and public order charges and, on his release, placed under house arrest with his family at their home in Shandong province.

After a daring escape in April last year, Mr Chen sought refuge in the US embassy in Beijing. He was allowed to leave China in May last year and has been a research fellow at New York University Law School since then.

Taiwanese president Ma Ying-jeou, who has made improving ties with the mainland a key policy, would not meet Mr Chen, but the activist said Taiwan’s democracy was putting pressure on its neighbour.

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan

Clifford Coonan, an Irish Times contributor, spent 15 years reporting from Beijing