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July 24, 2017

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Minister grilled over stance on blind activist

TAIPEI--Opposition lawmakers grilled Mainland Affairs Council (MAC, 陸委會) head Lai Shin-yuan (賴幸媛) yesterday about the government's stance on the case of Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠).

"What did the president say in regard to the case of ChenGuangchen?" Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Lee Ying-yuan (李應元) asked Lai in a legislative session.

Lai was asked to report on the Taiwanese government's response to cases of human rights violation in China since 2008 and the possibility of including human rights clauses in cross-Taiwan Strait agreements.

Lai said the government's stance is laid out in a statement the MAC issued earlier, calling on China to deal with its human rights activists in a "rational and peaceful" way since they "represent a very important voice."

She also said the mainland Chinese government should ensure legal justice, protect human rights, and carry out political reforms.

The Taiwanese people "are all watching" how mainland China handles its human rights cases, she said.

Lee also asked if the MAC will declare its stance on Chen's case at the upcoming meeting between Taiwan and China's top negotiators in June.

In response, Lai said "we could ask Chiang Pin-kung (江丙坤), chairman of Taiwan's Straits Exchange Foundation, to raise the issue."

The top-level talks between Chiang and Chen Yunlin, president of China's Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Straits, are expected to address issues such as investment protection and customs cooperation.

Meanwhile, in response to DPP Legislator Chen Ming-wen's (陳明文) question about whether the government will invite the Chinese activist to Taiwan, Lai said it will be no problem for Chen Guangcheng to visit if he is invited by private groups and all procedures are carried out in compliance with regulations.

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