Human rights outweigh state power, sovereignty: Chinese activist

Exiled Chinese human rights advocate Chen Guangcheng, whose flight from China last year stirred a diplomatic row between Beijing and Washington, said Thursday in Taiwan human rights outweigh state power and sovereign rights.

"Self-determination of peoples is clearly stipulated in the charter of the United Nations," he said at a book launch in Taipei, adding, "People have the absolute right to decide their own government. Human rights should outweigh state power and sovereign rights under any circumstances."

When asked about the "one country, two systems" principle applied to Hong Kong after its return to China in 1997, Chen called the term a "false concept" designed to entrap the special administrative region.

He said Beijing should make it clear who has more say on the region's affairs.

"If the answer is the Chinese government and not the people of Hong Kong, I don't think many people in Hong Kong would find it acceptable," he said.

Chen would, however, support the "one country, two systems" principle in China if "most Chinese people vote for democracy except for those preferring dictatorship."

The rights activist stressed debates about Taiwanese independence or unification with China are "meaningless" and urged the island to instead focus on strengthening human rights.

On Wednesday, Chen said the discussion about Taiwanese independence is "obsolete."

"Finding a way out for this country is not easy," he said, adding "it is an undertaking that requires collective wisdom and effort."

Chen, who arrived in Taiwan on Sunday and will return to the United States on July 11, has spoken at universities and the legislature, visited nongovernmental organizations as well as politicians and launched a book.

He was jailed in China between 2006 and 2010 for helping people forced to have abortions or sterilizations and was subsequently detained at his home in northern 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.