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Did the U.S. Rush Chen Guangcheng Out of Its Embassy?

Did the U.S. Rush Chen Guangcheng Out of Its Embassy?

It is looking more and more possible that U.S. officials made at least some mistakes in handling the case of Chinese dissident and lawyer Chen Guangcheng. After escaping from extralegal house arrest in his village in Shandong province, Chen, with the help of a network of activists, made his way to Beijing and then to the U.S. Embassy. He left American protection on Wednesday and is now in a hospital in Beijing, where he has been reunited with his wife, Yuan Weijing, and two children.

But after initial reports that Chen did not wish to seek asylum in the U.S. and that he would be relocated safely to the city of Tianjin, where he would be able to study law, Chen has made it very clear that he now fears for the safety of his family and wants to leave China. He has requested that he meet face-to-face with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is now in Beijing for previously schedule strategic economic and political talks. Indeed, Chen has said that he wishes to leave China on Clinton’s plane; on Thursday, he telephoned a U.S. Congressional hearing and pleaded for help to get himself and his family out of China: “I want to come to the US to rest. I have not had a rest in 10 years,” he said.

The Obama administration’s handling of Chen’s case is leading some critics to “portray the embassy as inept bunglers under pressure to remove a distraction before the big talks got under way,” says the BBC’s Mark Mardell. Mitt Romney, the presumptive Republican candidate for president, has charged the Obama administration with acting in haste to complete the negotiations about Chen’s situation prior to Clinton’s arrival in China for the talks.

According to the New York Times, American officials who negotiated with the Chinese Foreign Ministry about Chen said that they consulted “frequently” with him but not extensively with his wife and this, in hindsight, may have turned out to be a “mistake.” Via a telephone interview with the New York Times on Thursday, Chen’s wife said that he had left the U.S. Embassy “voluntarily,” but that things had changed after his departure:

Under the original plan, China promised to “guarantee his freedom and rights, and the U.S. made some efforts,” she said. “But after he’s out, the situation has not been optimistic and has not been improved.” She said communications with their extended family had been cut.

“We can’t get in contact with our family,” she said.

Chen, his wife and two children remain in a Beijing hospital that has been sealed off by police. Villagers and activists who helped him are now facing retribution. The BBC’s Damian Grammaticas attempted to visit him there on Thursday, but was barred by police. U.S. diplomats and lawyers are also not being allowed to see Chen who, says Grammaticas, is effectively under detention.

The BBC also reports that a Hong Kong cable crew who attempted to get to Chen’s house in Shandong province was attacked.

Related Care2 Coverage

Activist Chen Asks Obama to Get His Family Out of China

Chinese Crackdown Feared After Dissident Chen’s Escape

China Quashes Calls for a ‘Jasmine Revolution’ on Sunday



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Image of Chen Guangcheng from a screenshot of a video uploaded by bxnews

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5:32PM PDT on May 25, 2012

Thank you for sharing.

2:35AM PDT on May 6, 2012

Thanks for the article.

10:08PM PDT on May 4, 2012

I read the memoir titled "Mao's Last Dancer" by a Chinese ballet dancer who defected to the US by entering an embassy while touring the U.S. Regardless of the promises the Chinese made, the threats, etc, those in charge knew to NEVER allow the dancer to take a single step outside of the embassy until they had all legal documents in order to keep him safely within the U.S. Whoever was involved in Chen Quangcheng's case knew exactly what they were doing. The US caved into China, again, allowing them to abuse human beings. The people in these embassies know exactly what to do, and have direct contact with every expert. The difficulty, of course, is that this U.S. Embassy was in Beijing, and so it would be hard to obtain that passport and those documents until AFTER the man and his family had already found a way out of China. Still, they had no business allowing him to leave before his family had also been negotiated into the safety net.

6:40PM PDT on May 4, 2012

I ws captivated by the hearing in DC about Mr. Chen's plight and the torturous treatment of others by the Chinese red Guard. There is no thought of human suffering in that Communist country. We should begin to pull out manufacturing jobs, which are akin to slavery based in wages and conditions. Amensty International is keeping a watchful eye on the situtation. There have been asylum seekers maintaind in U
S Embassy's for years. Mr Chen was sent to a hospital, virtualy in isolation Hillary Clinton has not addressed this issue.

4:54PM PDT on May 4, 2012

If Chen Guangcheng was seeking exile from persecution and the protection of his family and he was chased out of the US Embassy for expedient political reasons it is a disgrace and an embarassment to the US State Deparment.

3:25PM PDT on May 4, 2012

This Mr. Chen considers it a human right to increase the population of China which is already in excess of 1.2 billion people. The guy is a nutcase. He's obviously just another pro-lifer, so why should we want him in the US anyway? We already have enough nuts of his variety here, thank you very much.

8:11AM PDT on May 4, 2012

Thank you for the article...

5:53AM PDT on May 4, 2012

Its difficult to speculate at this moment what's going on. I opined that the US really want him out of China. But then Chen is worried about the repercussions to his immediate family and relatives. Chinese authorities can be very ruthless to families if the person or individual they are after eloped. This being the fact that the Chinese do not like embarrassment and their leaders do not like to explain to the politburo and the Chinese people that they are incompetent.

5:04AM PDT on May 4, 2012

The more we learn about this, the weirder it becomes.
I wouldn't be surprised if the people who helped him escape (and made the local officials look like incompetents) faced dire retribution.
As well, the embassy personnel seems to have been eager to send him back to the wolves, and if we were to learn that the Chinese government bullied the US and threatened Chen (wasn't there a promise to beat his wife to death if he didn't leave the embassy?), I still wouldn't be surprised. That's elementary strategy coming from people who must know their copies of The Art of War by heart.

Thanks for the post.

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