Chinese Dissident Asks for Asylum for Family
Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist who took asylum at the US embassy in Beijing but subsequently left after allegedly being told by US officials that the Chinese were threatening to torture his wife, is now looking for asylum from the US again. “I want them to protect human rights through concrete actions,” he said from Beijing. “We are in danger. If you can talk to Hillary, I hope she can help my whole family leave China.”
Chen’s taking refuge at the embassy had created a diplomatic snafu for the US, which is trying to woo China with regard to trade. “The embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to have people stay with me at the hospital,” he told the press. “But this afternoon, as soon as I checked into the hospital room, I noticed they were all gone.” He said he felt he had been lied to by the American government.
Chen found out that after he had fled to the embassy, his wife was “tied to a chair by police for two days. Then they carried thick sticks to our house, threatening to beat her to death.”
The Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell denied Guancheng’s account; he said that when Chen was asked if he wanted to leave, he was excited to do so. The State Department spokeswoman insisted that they had said nothing to Chen about the condition of his wife, but they did make clear “that if Chen elected to stay in the embassy, Chinese officials had indicated to us that his family would be returned to Shandong, and they would lose their opportunity to negotiate for reunification.”
Secretary of State Clinton released a statement explaining, “I was glad to have the chance to speak with him today and to congratulate him on being reunited with his wife and children.” State Department officials say that the eyes of the world are on Chen, and that if he is mistreated, it will create serious diplomatic difficulties for the Chinese.