US expects dissident Chen Guangcheng to leave China soon

 
Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng at in Beijing, 2 May Mr Chen initially said he wanted to stay in China, but changed his mind

The US says it expects China to allow prominent dissident Chen Guangcheng to travel abroad soon.

The US state department said Mr Chen had been offered a fellowship at an American university, and it would allow his wife and children to accompany him.

Earlier, Beijing said the blind activist could apply to study abroad - paving the way for a resolution to a tense diplomatic stand-off with the US.

Mr Chen fled house arrest last month and spent six days in the US embassy.

He left but now says he wants to go to the US with his family.

His case has overshadowed high-level US-China talks taking place in Beijing.

US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement that Mr Chen had been offered a fellowship from an American university - later identified as New York University (NYU).

She said Mr Chen could be accompanied by his wife and children, and that the US expected Beijing to process their application for travel "expeditiously".

"The United States government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention," the statement added.

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When Friday dawned it was unclear whether the US would help Mr Chen leave China - and whether China would allow him to go. Events moved quickly as the hours ticked by”

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Jerome Cohen, an NYU law professor who arranged the fellowship, was quoted as saying by the Associated Press news agency: "It's a good way out for the Chinese government and our government and for Chen and his family."

Earlier, Xinhua news agency quoted foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin as saying: "If he wishes to study overseas, as a Chinese citizen, he can, like any other Chinese citizens, process relevant procedures with relevant departments through normal channels in accordance with the law."

Following an annual strategic dialogue between the US and China, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was "encouraged" by the Chinese statement.

"Progress has been made to help him have the future he wants," she told a news conference in Beijing.

Mrs Clinton also confirmed that the US ambassador in Beijing had spoken to Mr Chen by phone on Friday, and that an embassy doctor had been able to visit him.

Media attack

The dissident is currently in a Beijing hospital, sealed off by Chinese police.

Mr Chen spent a week in the US embassy after escaping from house arrest for more than a year-and-a-half. He left the embassy on Wednesday after accepting China's assurances of his safety.

Clinton: "This is... about the human rights and aspirations of a billion people."

He later said that in view of the threats against his family, he had decided to leave the country.

He told the Associated Press news agency that his wife was being followed and filmed by unidentified men whenever she was allowed to leave the hospital.

China had earlier demanded an apology from the US for sheltering Mr Chen in its embassy.

One of China's main official newspapers, the Beijing Daily, accused the dissident of being "a tool and a pawn for American politicians to blacken China".

In another development, the Chinese authorities have told some foreign correspondents covering the Chen story they may lose their visas if they breach regulations again.

The police warning came after the journalists, thought to number about 20, were accused of entering the hospital where Mr Chen is being treated without permission.

Mr Chen, 40, is a lawyer who has campaigned against forced abortions and sterilisations of women under China's policy of one child per family.

The case has increasing political resonance in the US. Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney has said that if reports that Mr Chen had been persuaded to leave the embassy were true, it was "a day of shame for the Obama administration".

 

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  • rate this
    +4

    Comment number 137.

    This is how the chinese authorities deal with their citizens and it isn't a 'one-off' It happens all the time, its just we never get to hear of it unless the person is known or they manage to escape. And we still trade with this country? isn't it time we had some backbone in the west instead of brushing it aside. Its always money!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 128.

    People always saying China has no human rights, come and live in China and see for yourself- it is not all the media has painted about China. She has done more to lift people out of poverty in this century! Sure it still has it's problems, but I believe it can be transformed into a righteous country and 1.3 billion Chinese would benefit. Judge your own human rights record before your judge China.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 121.

    Any positive change for human rights has to come from within China.

    Businesses are not going to stop opening factories in China, and people are not going to stop buying goods produced in China.

    We can point fingers all we want but I guarantee the loudest people on this forum complaining about the US or UK government doing business with China own goods produced there.

  • rate this
    +2

    Comment number 55.

    This is a very strange turn of events. I honestly didn't think they'll let him out of the country after the epic escape.

    Very good for him that he was able to come out of all this unharmed.

  • rate this
    -7

    Comment number 52.

    My daughter with massive student loans, Bachelor and Master Degree in Education, laid-off from her job as a teacher because of gov't financial cuts to schools, has no medical insurance, tries to make money tutoring to pay her student loans while some Chinese dissendent will get a free ride in our country. I'm tired of my country shelling out help to an ungrateful world when we are in need of help.

 

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