Blind Chinese dissident to visit Taiwan this month

Prominent Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who has been living in the United States since leaving China last year, will visit Taiwan at the end of this month, a rights group organizing the visit said Thursday.

The Taiwan Association for China Human Rights told reporters that Chen will arrive on June 23 and leave on July 11, during which he will speak at the legislature and universities, visit non-government organizations and launch a book.

He will also visit politicians in Taipei and southern Taiwan, including Legislative Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, chairman of the main opposition Democratic Progressive Party Su Tseng-chang, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai and former Vice President Annette Lu.

Chen said he does not rule out meeting President Ma Ying-jeou if time permits.

Chen will be visiting Taiwan on his way to the Philippines to receive the prestigious Ramon Magsaysay Award, often considered Asia's Nobel Prize.

Chen made international headlines in April last year when he managed to escape from illegal home detention in Shandong province and make it to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he remained for six days before Chinese officials agreed to let him leave for the United States to become a visiting scholar at New York University.

A self-taught lawyer, Chen was jailed between 2006 and 2010 after he helped expose coercive practices of China's family planning policies. After his release, he and his family were placed under virtual house arrest.