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Pro-Life Human Rights Activist Chen Guangcheng Tells Congressional-Executive Commission on China his fears about reprisals and his hopes to leave China

by | May 4, 2012

By Dave Andrusko

In stark and dramatic terms  pro-life Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng told Congress Thursday that he wants to meet with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and  requested to have his “freedom of travel guaranteed” as he seeks to leave China with his family to the United States.

As a translator conveyed his words in English, Chen told the Congressional-Executive Commission on China, “I want to meet with the Secretary Clinton,” adding via speakerphone that “I hope I can get more help from her. I also want to thank her face to face.”

Chen, 40, exposed the Chinese government’s systematic and  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 which culminated with Chen surreptitiously arriving at the American Embassy in Beijing.

Speaking from his hospital room in Beijing, Chen told members of the Commission that he “really fears for my other family members’ lives” and suspected that all of the villagers who helped him escape house arrest and get to the embassy “are also receiving retribution.” ABC News reports that Chen said, “I’m most concerned right now is the safety of my mother, my brothers and I really want to know what’s going on with them.” He concluded the call by saying he wanted “to thank all of you for your care and for your love.”

Every move since Chen arrived at the Embassy has been steeped in caution and controversy as Chen seeks to protect his family from additional reprisals from the Chinese government and the Obama Administration attempts to justify how it has responded.

For example, the Obama State Department is defending the agreement it said it reached with Chen and the Chinese government which resulted in Chen being escorted to a Beijing hospital. “U.S. officials said they were guaranteed the ability to monitor Chen’s security and given assurances his supporters would not be prosecuted for helping him. Chen was to receive medical treatment for chronic ill health and injuries sustained during his escape,” ABC News reported.

However Chen told the Associated Press that the only reason he left the U.S. embassy was because he was told the Chinese would kill his wife if he refused. (ABC News characterized a subsequent comment—that the Chinese Government “threatened me that if I don’t leave the embassy, they will bring my family back to Shandong”–as “stepping back.” That would not seem to be borne out by what Chen told the Congressional-Executive Commission.)

Before Chen called in Co-Chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) said that since leaving the Embassy Mr. Chen has “expressed an earnest desire to gain asylum for himself and for his family. Questions indeed arise as to whether or not Chen was pressured to leave the U.S. compound.”

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said he will formally request a congressional review of all cable traffic, classified or otherwise, that surrounded the negotiations for Chen to leave the embassy.

“It is hard to comprehend why the administration would accept at face value assurances that Chen would be safe upon exiting U.S. protection. You wonder if there were other forces at work,” Wolf said, ABC News reported.

“Had word come down from on high to resolve the Chen situation, no matter what, prior to the arrivals of secretaries [Hillary] Clinton and [Tim] Geithner, who were headed to Beijing this week for high-level economic and foreign policy talks? Was there even a hint of coercion? Was there any coercion, subtle coercion, forced coercion or pressure involved? What were the internal State Department and White House deliberations?”

To hear testimony from Obama administration witnesses, Smith said he intends to convene another hearing of the commission. “There are many questions, and there are even more concerns,” he said. “How will the United States-China agreement on Chen and his family’s safety be enforced? What happens if Chen or any member of his family suffers retaliation?” Smith asked. “The eyes of the world are watching to see that his wishes are honored by the Chinese government.”

In speech delivered Thursday in Portsmouth, Virginia, pro-life Mitt Romney characterized the handling of the situation as “a day of shame for the Obama Administration.”

Romney, the de facto Republican presidential nominee, said, “The reports are, if they are accurate, that our administration, willingly or unwittingly communicated to Chen an implicit threat to his family, and also probably sped up, or may have sped up the process of his decision to leave the embassy because they wanted to move on to a series of discussions that Mr. Geithner and our secretary of state are planning to have with China.”

Romney continued, “It’s also apparent according to these reports, if they are accurate, that our embassy failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would ensure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family.”

He concluded, “If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom. And it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration.”

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Categories: China