Human rights basis for peace, Chinese activist Chen says

Prominent Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, who has been living in the United States since leaving China last year, said Tuesday at Taiwan's legislature that human rights are the foundation for peace, not only across the Taiwan Strait but also in Asia and around the world.

"Overlooking human rights is tantamount to ignoring public opinions," he said. "Respect for human rights and civil liberty helps advance stability of a country, keep order of a society and protect interests of individuals."

During a question and answer session after his talk, Chen was asked to denounce the United States for infringing the rights and privacy of its own people by targeting civilian infrastructure.

In response, Chen said any country or government, including the United States, ignoring the due process of law and encroaching on its people's civil rights deserves condemnation.

Describing his visit to Taiwan as a "learning journey," Chen said he is in Taiwan to understand its democratic system, observe the rule of law and experience freedom of speech and media freedom.

And Chen witnessed "freedom of speech" Tuesday as legislators engaged in verbal and physical clashes over controversial bills on the legislative floor.

One of the bills concerns the fate of a problem-plagued nuclear power plant.

The administration has announced its plan to hold a public referendum on whether to stop the project, which entered the construction phase in 1999.

And legislators have only Wednesday and Thursday to tackle bills before the provisional legislative session ends Thursday.

Should they fail to reach a conclusion, a decision has to be made on whether or not an extra session will be held.

Chen, who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday and is to return to the United States on July 11, is also scheduled to speak at universities, launch a book and visit nongovernmental organizations as well as politicians during his stay.

Chen was jailed in China between 2006 and 2010 for helping people forced to have abortions or be sterilized and was subsequently detained at his home in northeastern China's Shandong Province for 18 months.

He escaped in April last year, taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

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