Chen Guangcheng: Chinese Dissident Says U.S. Let Him Down


China is allowing Chen to be relocated to a safe environment so that he may attend a university of his choosing at which to study," according to U.S. officials.

U.S. Officials say Chinese officials have agreed to look into the abuses Chen says have been committed against him and his family by local authorities in Shandong for years. The United States will be able to maintain contact with Chen to ensure that the Chinese promises are being upheld.

The pledge to investigate crimes against him and his family is a point Chen raised in a direct plea to Premier Wen Jiabao in a video uploaded to YouTube hours before he entered the embassy. Chen prevailed upon his government to rid the country of the corrupt officials who committed abuse against him and others.

It was a savvy if not pre-mediated move; it opened the door for Beijing to distance itself from the local authorities much like it has done in dealing with the Bo Xilai scandal. In that case, a corrupt government official in charge of Chongqing province was removed from office when a scandal involving his wife and the killing of a British citizen erupted around him. His former right-hand man, Wang Lijun, sought assistance at the U.S. Embassy but later left of his own accord, according to both sides.

But whereas Wang, who has been placed on "vacation style treatment" and has not been seen or heard from in weeks, is soundly part of the regime, Chen is decidedly outspoken against it.

Officials said Chen entered the embassy under exceptional circumstances April 26. Because of his visual impairment, he was given assistance on humanitarian grounds and was allowed to stay on a temporary basis. Chen's foot had also been injured in his escape, possibly broken.

Hu Jia, his friend, said Chen had to evade eight layers of security surrounding his home and travel for 20 hours to reach a rendezvous point where a supporter, He Peirong, drove him to Beijing. When he arrived at the car, he was, in Hu's words, "bloody, soaking wet and trembling."

He would arrive in Beijing and spend several nights moving from safe-house to safe-house to evade capture.

U.S. officials would not confirm further details of his entry into the embassy. But dissident sources say that the underground activist network became aware that the police knew Chen was in Beijing and were closing in. The only safe place for him, they convinced him, was the U.S. Embassy.

U.S. officials described Chen as a warm and inviting person who would often hold one of their hands when speaking with them about his concerns for the future. Over the course of a few days, the team in Beijing worked closely with Clinton and the Chinese to find a way forward. Officials have said they believe the dialogue that occurred between the two countries was entirely unique. U.S. officials believe the agreement reached with the Chinese will give Chen a better life and future.

But in a news conference with reporters, China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said China is demanding an apology from the United States. Liu would not elaborate on the deal as the Chinese view it, only to say that Chen spent a total of six days at the embassy and left of his own volition. The United States, he suggested, should take time to reflect on its own policies and practices and "take concrete actions to safeguard the overall situation of Sino-U.S. relations."

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