TAIPEI, Taiwan – The Chinese activist who fled to America after taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last year said Monday that China's relentless efforts to crush opposition forces or suppress human rights will backfire.
Chen Guangcheng said he is convinced that rapidly growing yearnings for freedoms and human rights among the Chinese will eventually "put an end to the authoritarian rule" in the communist country. Chen spoke at a news conference in Taiwan, where he is on a two-week visit.
But Chen evaded questions about his criticism last week of New York University, where he spent the last year as a special student after leaving China. He said the university caved to pressure from China's Communist Party when it asked him to leave. The university denied that, saying it had agreed to give Chen a one-year fellowship to assist his departure from China, and that he was leaving because the year was over.
Chen said he may have hit a "sore point" with his comments, but he did not give any details. He also declined to comment on reports that one of his supporters in the United States gave him an iPhone and iPad installed with software to track his activities. "I am no computer expert," he said.
On Monday, Chen accused Beijing of spending billions of dollars annually to monitor dissidents and activists and put them in jail if they refused to stop their advocacies.
"No other regimes in the world have feared or monitored their own people in such a way," Chen said, adding that whatever the Chinese authorities do "they cannot make me shut up. That will be out of the question."
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, when asked to comment on Chen's visit to Taiwan, said "every Chinese citizen has obligations to abide by the constitution and laws of China and refrain from doing things that will hurt the national interest." She did not elaborate.
Chen, a self-taught lawyer who has been blind since birth, had angered local Chinese officials by documenting complaints about forced abortions.
He escaped house arrest in his rural town in eastern China's Shandong province in April 2012 and sparked a diplomatic crisis when he fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Chinese officials later let him move to the U.S. with his wife and children.
Once in the United States, Chen gave speeches, and spoke about China's human rights record before a U.S. congressional committee.
He said he regretted that Taiwanese President Ma Ying-jeou had declined to meet him, but added Taiwan's democracy is exerting pressure on its neighbor and political rival. Ma's spokesman did not give a reason for not meeting Chen, but Ma has been working to improve ties with Beijing.
"Now is a crucial moment for the entire mainland and Asia to move on to practice democracy," Chen said, adding China's eventual democratization could "spell the end of dictatorship for the entire humankind."
Taiwan and China split amid civil war in 1949, but relations have improved in recent years.