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.

  • Jordan - 2012-05-03 21:14

    These Chinese dissidents complain, but they are not US citizens. The US already went out of their way and spent loads of political capital on this. If we did that for every Chinese oppressed person, we'd be broke. The fact is that expending political capital with China has its costs - this is a zero sum game and every inch we push for one of these people affects REAL AMERICAN PEOPLE AND FAMILIES at home. When we can extract concessions from China on their fluctuating currency or they cancel trade agreements/purchases from the US because we used up all our cred on this? Yeah, that affects real American lives. No, Americans are not treated in the same way as Chen has been, but that's never an excuse. As presidents on both sides of the aisle have noted, global security has been underwritten by the US ever since WWII with OUR dollars and the blood of OUR soldiers. So tell these complainers to shut up and get over it. They're misleading the media with this crap.

      Kathleen - 2012-05-03 21:28

      Jordan was 2 years old when he drowned. Somehow, he has come back to make make a statement: If the eyes were the window to the soul; the blind would have no soul.

  • Lacrimose - 2012-05-03 21:31

    Well we have to take all of this with a pinch of salt and a measure of cynicism. Firstly, the refuge provided created much political tension betw USA and China - China being USA's biggest trading market. Secondly, and under-reported on ZA news sites, was the fact that his family was being rounded up by Chinese police in retaliation. Of course it was a big mistake - another complete failure of not only America's but the rest of the free world to stand by their policies of human rights. One day we will read a book or see a movie about how it was decided to sacrifice "a single human being for the sake of many" and we'll be manipulated into agreeing with that decision for the buck is truly mightier than any human right

  • Alfred - 2012-05-04 06:20

    Good for the goose. Imagine if Bradely Manning had sort shelter from american persecution at the chinese embassy in Washigton.

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