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Li Ao Arrives for 'Chinese Culture Trip'

Famous Taiwan writer and cultural figure Li Ao arrived at the Beijing Capital Airport around 5:10 p.m. Monday, starting his 10-day "Chinese culture trip."

This is his first trip back to the Chinese mainland in 56 years.

During his stay in Beijing from September 19 to 24, Li Ao will visit the Palace Museum, deliver speeches at Peking and Tsinghua Universities, meet his primary school classmates and participate in TV programs and online chatting.

He may also tour the Number 4 Middle School and Xinxianhutong Primary School where he studied, visit his 86-year-old teacher in his primary school and give some of his masterpieces to his old friends in the city.

Li was born in Harbin, northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, in 1935.

The mainland tour will then take the Taiwan scholar to Shanghai, where he will give a lecture at Fudan University, Hong Kong before he returns to Taiwan on September 30.

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

Li Ao 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 well known by mainland intellectuals for his satire, sharp commentaries and poignant criticism.

He is also credited as a staunch advocate of China's reunification, which he believes is "irresistible", and claims if reunification came earlier, it would be more beneficial for Taiwan.

In a related development, the authorities of Peking University say Li Ao will be entitled to read some ancient books, which are rarely shown to the public.

The Number 4 Middle School also says it plans to give the Taiwan scholar his student card as a gift.

(Xinhua News Agency September 20, 2005)

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