NRL News

Chen Guangcheng feels “let down” by Obama Administration

by | May 3, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng with his wife and son, Chen Kerui in 2005.

As NRL News Today is about to post, the latest in the rapidly-changing situation of human rights activist Chen Guangcheng is that he has told journalists he fears for his life and, contrary to earlier stories, wants to leave China. Chen, 40, courageously exposed the Chinese government’s systematic, massive use of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization to enforce its “One Child Policy.” He was sentenced to more than four years in jail and was under house arrest in rural Shandong province for 19 months before a daring escape April 22.

There are many conflicting accounts, but evidently Guangcheng left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing where he had fled for safety “after securing guarantees that, according to U.S. officials, would have allowed him to relocate within the country in safety with his family and pursue his studies,” according to Reuters. However, that changed quickly after Chen was released to a  Beijing hospital and being reunited with his family. After learning of the way his wife had been treated, Chen gave interviews saying he feared for their safety.

Reuters quoted a CNN reporter who had spoke to Chen for 15 to 20 minutes. “He wants to leave and he wants to leave as soon as possible,” the  CNN reporter said on air. Chen felt “let down” by the United States, the reporter added. “He wants to leave China. If he stays here he says he will not live.”

Bob Fu, the president of religious and human rights group, ChinaAid, said Chen agreed to leave the embassy only because “serious threats to his immediate family members were made by Chinese government” if he refused the government’s offer, Reuters reported. “Dissident Hu Jia said his wife Zeng Jinyan had spoken to Chen’s wife, who also spoke of threats from the government.”

In a statement Fu added that “the group was very concerned about reports from what he called ‘reliable sources’ that Chen’s departure from the embassy was involuntary. Relevant reports show unfortunately the U.S. side ‘has abandoned Mr Chen.’”

In Washington, State Department officials insisted that the dissident never asked for political asylum in the United States and that Chinese officials hadn’t made threats against Chen’s family during their negotiations with U.S. officials. “At no time did any U.S. official speak to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children,”  Victoria Nuland, the chief State Department spokeswoman, said in a statement. “Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us.” Nuland also insisted that “at every opportunity,“ Chen expressed his desire to stay in China

But in an interview with the Associated Press at the Beijing hospital room , Chen said “the threats against his family compelled him to end his stay under U.S. protection and that he wanted to leave China but feared for his family’s safety if left behind.”

Meanwhile the Chinese government “angrily accused the United States of meddling and demanded an apology for the way U.S. diplomats handled the case,” according to Reuters.

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Categories: China