Mistake to let Chen leave US embassy

2012-05-03 20:39

Washington - Washington made a "serious mistake" in allowing blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to leave its embassy, said a leading Chinese dissident, who told AFP Thursday that Beijing will never allow the man out of the country.

"At present, the situation has become a lot more difficult," said prominent exiled dissident Wei Jingsheng, speaking to AFP by telephone in Washington.

"Chen Guangcheng is no longer under the protection of the US government and there is no chance that the Chinese government will allow him to leave," said Wei, speaking in Mandarin.

Wei, who himself arrived in the United States in 1997 after spending nearly two decades in prison in China, said Beijing would never accept the "precedent" set by Chen's diplomatically thorny case.

"It would mean that it would accept that any dissident could go into exile by knocking at the door of an embassy and it would amount to accepting US interference in Chinese affairs," he said.

"I think that the US government made a serious mistake in allowing Chen Guangcheng to leave the embassy," Wei continued.

"They should not have been so quick to trust the Chinese government and should have gotten concrete guarantees in writing," he said. By not doing so, he added, "They have put Mr Chen in danger".

Wei, 61, is considered the father of the modern dissident movement in China for his protests during the 1979 democracy movement.

Beijing officials cited health reasons for their decision to allow him to leave China for the United States in 1997.

Severe beatings

The United States on Thursday was in talks with Chen about his future, after the blind activist expressed fears for his safety and pleaded to be taken abroad.

The crusading lawyer escaped from house arrest in eastern China on April 22 and made his way to the US embassy in Beijing, where he spent six days before leaving on Wednesday.

The crisis came as the two powers were opening high level annual economic and strategic talks on a wide range of issues.

Chen, who pressed for an end to forced abortions and sterilizations under Chinas's "one-child" policy, left the embassy after Beijing pledged that he and his family would be treated "humanely".

But he now says that he wishes to be sent to the United States and left the US embassy under duress. He said he fears for his safety and the safety of his family.

Chen's flight from house arrest in China came despite round-the-clock surveillance at his house in Shandong, where he has alleged that he and his family suffered severe beatings after he ended a four-year jail term in 2010.

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