Taipei: Exiled, blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng on Monday urged Taiwan to stand up to China`s "illegitimate" communist government, as he visited the self-governing island amid controversy over his future in the United States.
Chen told in an interview that Taiwanese leaders including President Ma Ying-jeou and the parliamentary speaker had backed out of meeting him during his visit to Taipei, which he said was proof of meddling by Beijing.
"What we see today is that Mr. Ma is not free," said the 41-year-old, who last year staged a dramatic escape from house arrest in China before fetching up at the US embassy in Beijing and heading on to a new life in New York.
"Even though he is friendly and helps us come to Taiwan, we see that he is under pressure from China," Chen said.
The activist said Ma was forging a dangerous bargain in seeking to bolster commercial relations with Taiwan`s former bitter rival China.
"First of all, you need to understand who you`re dealing with. If you`re interacting with the vast majority of people in China, it is the right choice. But you`re interacting with the Chinese communist government, which is illegitimate in nature," he said.
"If Taiwan can`t push democracy and freedom to China, the authoritarian (rule of) China will spread to Taiwan... If Taiwan or the free world can`t insist on their principles, they will get hurt."
Taiwan split from the mainland at the end of a civil war in 1949, but still styles itself the "Republic of China". Beijing insists that the two entities must eventually reunite, by force if necessary.