Japan, Taiwan key in China's democratization: Chinese activist Chen

Prominent Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who has been living in the United States since leaving China last year, said Monday that Japan and Taiwan are playing a key role in the democratization process in Asia, particularly in China.

"Japanese media have begun to pay closer attention to China's human rights condition, which is a good thing and an inevitable development," he told a news conference a day after he arrived in Taipei.

Taiwan can "undoubtedly serve as a model" for the democratization of China, he said, adding, "Taiwan's success story of democratization causes much fear in China."

Chen, who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday and is scheduled to return to the United States on July 11, said he hopes to visit Japan sometime this year.

During his stay in Taiwan, Chen will visit politicians in Taipei and southern Taiwan, including Democratic Progressive Party Chairman Su Tseng-chang, Greater Tainan Mayor William Lai and former Vice President Annette Lu.

Parliamentary Speaker Wang Jin-pyng, who originally planned to meet Chen on Tuesday, canceled the meeting at the last minute, citing time constraints.

The Presidential Office said President Ma Ying-jeou welcomed Chen's visit but decided not to meet him.

Chen said Monday he "understood" why Ma and Wang declined to meet him and whether they meet is not important, but that what he says is.

Seeking to explain the development, Chen said he sees a game of chess being played between authoritarianism and democracy.

"We must be vigilant. If we don't show our concern, authoritarianism will reach out for a yard after taking an inch," he said.

As his one-year fellowship at New York University will come to an end this month, Chen said he will continue to advocate human rights regardless of his location.

"There are many options for my future," he said, adding that he does not rule out coming to Taiwan.

On China's democratization, Chen said it is "inevitable" and that its suppression of human rights will never succeed.

To help China's democratization, Chen encouraged Taiwan to maintain frequent contacts with China's human rights activists. If China remains autocratic, it will never allow the independence of Tibet or the Uyghur region, he said.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer, was jailed in China between 2006 and 2010 for helping forced abortion and sterilization victims, and was subsequently detained at home in northeastern China's Shandong Province for 18 months until his dramatic escape in April last year that ended in his taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Following days of negotiations, Beijing agreed to let Chen and his family leave China.