Emergency House hearing today on Chen Guangcheng crisis: Did State Department abandon him to uncertain fate?
News reports today are relaying contradictory yet alarming information about the well-being of Chinese pro-life dissident Chen Guangcheng and his family.
Previous reports indicated Chen wanted to remain in China after having escaped to the U.S. Embassy on April 22.
But after Chen was reunited with his wife – only after being returned by the U.S. to the Chinese – and learning how she was treated in his absence, he apparently changed his mind and wants to leave the country – on Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s plane, no less. Here is audio of a taped interview with The Guardian wherein Chen where he says he now wants out.
This entire Time piece is well worth reading and appears to give the most accurate account of events to date. Following are key excerpts:
A cluster of journalists is crowded around Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing, desperate for a glimpse of blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng. One of China’s most respected activists, Chen made a dramatic emergence from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on May 2, after spending six days sheltered there by the Americans. A last-minute deal secured an unorthodox solution to one of the world’s most sensitive diplomatic incidents in years: Chen, who has been locked up and beaten for years by officials furious that he dared expose a forced sterilization and abortion campaign in eastern Shandong province, would live on Chinese soil so long as the government would guarantee his life in a “safe environment,” according to the American side.
But today, he does not feel safe. Chen, who fractured his leg during his April 22 escape from extralegal house arrest, says he is a virtual prisoner in the hospital…..
What was supposed to be a successful diplomatic tango between the U.S. and China has turned into a rapid series of missteps that has the potential to make the Americans look less like Chen’s saviors and more like handmaidens to his continued misfortune….
His wife Yuan Weijing, who traveled with their two children to Beijing to meet him at Chaoyang Hospital, told him of her dreadful treatment by local Shandong thugs after his escape from house arrest in their stone farmhouse. He received news that threats to “beat her to death” had been made against Yuan. By Wednesday night, Chen was scared, upset, and virtually alone apart from his immediate family and an unfamiliar cavalcade of Chinese officialdom. Where were the Americans who had vowed to protect him, he asked foreign media? Why was his family not being given food at the hospital, to the point where one of his children was crying from hunger?…
According to Chen, U.S. officials said that they had tried to see him on Wednesday evening but that Chinese officials… would not give them access…. By Thursday afternoon, Chen said he had still not been able to meet face-to-face with American officials and that again they had tried to see him earlier in the day but had been stopped by Chinese forces….
The question now is whether the Americans, by either naïveté or otherwise, have left him to an uncertain fate by taking the Chinese at their word in their commitment to his safety and well-being. Will Chen really be allowed to go to university to study law? Will his friends be allowed to see him? What about his family members in Shandong who are still missing? Will he be bundled off by Chinese security agents when Clinton departs? Or will Chen’s now desperate pleas for asylum in America somehow be met? There are many questions. And so far, precious few answers, as Chen sits in a hospital with his wife and children, isolated from the world he so hoped to rejoin.
Meanwhile pro-life Republican Congressman Chris Smith will chair an emergency meeting of the U.S. House Congressional-Executive Commission on China this afternoon at 2p EST to discuss the ongoing crisis with Chen.
[Photo via Time]