Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng (陳光誠) was low-key when asked in Washington on Tuesday about a planned visit to Taiwan in June, but said he hoped he would be able to learn everything he could about the nation.
“Now, I think everything about Taiwan is good. I want to know all about it,” Chen said. “The fruit is good, the snacks are good and the people are very nice.”
Chen, a self-trained lawyer, lives with his wife and two children in New York City, where he is currently studing English at New York University.
He has been invited for a two-week visit to Taiwan, which is likely to begin on June 23.
His itinerary has yet to be decided, he said, but he understood there was a plan for him to deliver speeches.
He confirmed that Jerome Cohen, a professor at New York University’s School of Law and a former professor of President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at Harvard University, is to accompany him on the visit to Taiwan.
Asked whether he will meet Ma, Chen said: “I would rather not guess. Let nature take its course.”
The activist was in Washington to attend a US House of Representatives Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on China’s human rights on Tuesday along with Geng He (耿和), the wife of imprisoned Chinese human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng (高智晟).
Chen told the lawmakers that China did not fulfill its promise to him and the US made last year that it would not harm his family members after he left China.
Beijing had illegally placed his nephew, Chen Kegui (陳克貴), in custody before launching an illegal trial against him, Chen Guangcheng said.
Human rights in China need the attention of international society, the activist said.
“We must do the right things and not be afraid to anger dictators,” he said.
Chen Guangcheng was sentenced to four years and three months in prison in China in 2006 for “damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic.”
His supporters maintain the charges were trumped up by authorities to punish his legal advocacy for victims of what he saw as abusive family-planning policies.
He sparked diplomatic tensions when he escaped house arrest and fled to the US embassy in Beijing in April last year. After a deal was worked out with Chinese authorities, he left the embassy for treatment for an ankle injury in a Beijing hospital.
Eventually China allowed him to leave to study in New York.