Chinese dissident Chen Guang-cheng (陳光誠), who is now studying in the US, is welcome to visit Taiwan and his entry permit will be issued soon, the Mainland Affairs Council said.
The council said late on Sunday that it had asked the National Immigration Agency to assist Chen’s host in providing some additional supporting documents needed to process his entry permit.
Chen’s entry application has been approved and a permit will be issued as soon as all documentation requirements are met, the council said in a statement.
The statement came after Chiu Ling-yao (邱齡瑤), the secretary-general of the Taiwan Association for China Human Rights, which is arranging Chen’s visit, said on Sunday that Chen had yet to obtain an entry permit even though his application was filed in February.
“According to regulations, an entry permit can normally be obtained two weeks after an application is submitted. In Chen’s case, more than two months have passed, and we have yet to get a positive response,” Chiu said.
She said it seemed that both the council and the immigration agency were trying to put up barriers to Chen’s visit.
However, the immigration agency said on Sunday that its interagency screening commission approved Chen’s application on April 23 and that the entry permit would be issued after being confirmed by the council.
The council said it has always welcomed Chinese to visit Taiwan in accordance with law.
“This same stance applies to Chen’s case,” the council said, but it added that Chen’s host still needed to provide several documents, such as Chen’s full itinerary.
Once all of the required documents are submitted, Chen’s entry permit will be issued, it said.
Chen sparked a diplomatic tussle in April last year when he fled house arrest in China and sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing. Chinese authorities subsequently agreed to let him leave for the US to study, along with his wife and two children.
The 41-year-old, blind, self-trained lawyer has been studying at New York University since then.
Chiu said Chen and his family are scheduled to arrive in Taipei on June 23.
During his 20-day stay, he is set to appear at public events for about one week, including an international news conference on June 24, a speech at the legislature on June 25, a speech at National Cheng Kung University in Greater Tainan on June 26 and informal talks with professors and students at National Taiwan University’s College of Law on June 27, Chiu said.
Chen is also due to visit several non-governmental organizations and tourist attractions, Chiu added.
Jerome Cohen, a professor at New York University, who also taught President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) at Harvard University, is to accompany Chen on his trip.
Chen was sentenced to four years and three months in prison in 2006 for his human rights advocacy and vocal opposition to China’s forced abortion policy. He was put under virtual house arrest after being released in 2010.