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Chinese activist Chen agrees to visit Taiwan next year: lawmaker

NEW YORK--Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has agreed to visit Taiwan next year and will give a speech at the Legislative Yuan, Lin Chia-lung, a lawmaker of Taiwan's opposition Democratic Progressive Party, said Friday.

The Chinese civil rights lawyer has accepted an invitation to visit Taiwan next year with his wife Yuan Weijing and their two children for about two weeks, Lin said after paying a call on Chen.

Chen, who is now a visiting scholar at the School of Law at New York University, will not be able to make the trip before next summer because he is writing a memoir and his two children are in school, Lin said. to Taiwan's Legislature, Lin said.

In April, Chen, a self-taught lawyer, escaped house arrest and fled to the United States Embassy in Beijing, sparking diplomatic tension. After negotiations with the Chinese government, he left the embassy for medical treatment in early May.

On May 19, Chen, his wife and children were granted U.S. visas and departed Beijing for New York.

Despite their new-found freedom, Chen and his family have been keeping a low profile in the U.S. His meeting with Lin on Friday was not open to the media.

The activist said his first contact with Taiwan was in 2005, when Yang Hsien-hung, president of Taiwan's Association for China Human Rights, visited him in Shanghai, according to Lin.

Chen said it was after that meeting that he started paying attention to Taiwan affairs, Lin related.

Chen also expressed gratitude for Taiwan's concern for him, which he said helped motivate him during his house arrest in China, Lin added.

“Today's Taiwan is tomorrow's China, because there is no road for China except the path of democracy,” the lawmaker quoted Chen as saying.

The 40-year-old activist was sentenced in 2006 to four years and three months in prison for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.” His supporters maintained that the charges were trumped up by the authorities to punish Chen's legal advocacy for victims of what he called abusive family-planning policies, including forced abortions and sterilization.

That same year, Chen was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. In 2007, he received a Roman Magsaysay Award, which is given by the Philippines for humanitarian contributions.

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