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Controversial Taiwan Figure in Beijing

Li Ao, a controversial member of Taiwan’s lawmaking authorities who is also a writer, activist and social commentator, arrived in Beijing yesterday for his first visit to the mainland in 56 years.



The 70-year-old said he was driven not by nostalgia but by curiosity, maintaining he did not come to see the old China he had lived in, but "the new China."


During a 12-day visit, which will include stays in Shanghai and Hong Kong, he will speak to students at three universities.


Last week, at a conference organized by Hong Kong-based Phoenix Satellite Television, Li said he hoped the trip would promote cultural exchanges across the Taiwan Straits.


Li was born in the city of Harbin in northeast China and grew up in Beijing. At the age of 14, he moved with his family to Shanghai and from there to Taiwan in 1949.


He is a vocal "One country, two systems" proponent and was active in Taiwan’s democratic movement in the 1960s to 80s, being incarcerated for eight years for helping a prisoner escape to Japan in 1963.


Peking University authorities said Li would be permitted to read some ancient books that are rarely shown to the public during his visit there.


Beijing's No.4 Middle School, his alma mater, also said it plans to give him his student card as a gift.






(China Daily September 20, 2005)


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