Escaped Chinese Dissident Chen Guangcheng Says He Wants To Stay In China; US Brokers Deal For Protection
Beijing, China -
The blind Chinese dissident who escaped house arrest and made it to the US Embassy says he wants to stay in China and does not want political asylum in the United States.
That announcement came after the US brokered a deal with Chinese authorities for his continued safety and protection. Chen said all he wanted was to be able to live a normal life. He was reunited with his family at a local hospital where he received treatment for minor injuries sustained during his harrowing escape.
Chen sought protection at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where staff agreed to help on "humanitarian grounds" and gave him medical attention. "Mr. Chen made clear from the beginning he wanted to remain in China and that he wanted his stay in the United States Embassy to be temporary," the official said, adding that Chen's priority was to be reunited with his family.
While Chen was being driven by American embassy staff to the hospital Secretary of State Hillary Clinton call Chen.
In the agreement by Chinese and US Officials, Chen and his family will be relocated and allowed to attend a university, and be free of legal harassment, also top officials promised to investigate his claims that local police held him under house arrest for 19 months without charges, and US Embassy officials will be allowed to check up on Chen from time to time in a private setting to make sure he is doing ok.
China also agreed to not purse suspected activists who are thought to have helped Chen, though that part of the deal may mean little to many who have already been rounded up by authorities.
Despite a news coverage blackout of the incident that was blocked by the Great Firewall of China, China's Foreign Ministry released a terse statement over state-run media that Chen had left the embassy on his volition after staying there six days. The ministry also demanded an apology from the U.S. for taking a Chinese citizen "via abnormal means." The statement was also read on national television and radio -– an extraordinary measure given the widespread silence and censorship that surrounded Chen's story in China.
US Officials have said there is nothing to apologize for, and China will not receive one, and that it believes this was an extraordinary event under special circumstances.
Chen enraged local officials in Shandong for exposing forced abortions and sterilizations and served a prison sentence on what's widely agreed to be trumped-up charges of disrupting order. The government's inaction during Chen's subsequent house arrest was seen by human rights defenders as a signal of complicity.
Still some human rights watch groups have said regardless of any agreement, if Chen stays in China, he will never be free, and is sure to end up missing at some point.