China dissident Chen Guangcheng arrives in the US


Chen Guangcheng spoke as he arrived at New York University in Manhattan

Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has arrived in New York to begin a new life in the United States.

The blind human rights lawyer caused a diplomatic crisis when he escaped house arrest to arrive at the US embassy in Beijing last month.

Speaking outside New York University, where he has been offered a fellowship, Mr Chen said China had dealt with the situation with "restraint and calm".

But he raised concerns about ongoing reprisals against his family.

"Acts of retribution in Shandong have not been abated and my rights to practice law have been curbed - we hope to see a thorough investigation into this," he said, referring to the province where he was kept under house arrest.

The activist thanked US officials and his supporters for their help and said he had come to the United States for "recuperation in body and spirit".

'Human rights milestone'

Chen Guangcheng and his family were taken from a Beijing hospital, where he was being treated for a foot injury, to the capital's airport on Saturday.

At the scene

A crowd of activists, supporters and curious New Yorkers greeted Chen at the university apartment block in Greenwich Village where he and his family will stay.

Wearing dark glasses and hobbling on crutches, he may not have looked like a conquering hero, but that is how he was treated. There were cheers and screams of encouragement.

Some had brought flowers, while one woman was led away in tears after failing to secure a hug from her idol.

But while Chen's address to the crowd was emotional, it was also measured. Far from mocking or attacking the Chinese authorities who persecuted his family, he instead praised them for showing restraint. And was thoroughly polite in gently urging change.

This may just be a temporary lull in his fight against repression, or perhaps a deliberate strategy to avoid further problems for his extended family back home.

It might simply be that Chen is too tired to fight. He looked exhausted as he disappeared inside, insisting he needed rest - of body and spirit.

After weeks of uncertainty, the activist, his wife Yuan Weijing and their two children, aged eight and six, were handed passports and allowed to fly to Newark, New Jersey, where they arrived soon after 18:00 (22:00 GMT) on Saturday.

He spent six days in the US embassy in Beijing last month after escaping house arrest in north-east China, sparking a diplomatic spat between the US and China.

Former House speaker Nancy Pelosi described his arrival in the US as "a milestone in the cause for human rights in China".

"The courage of Chen Guangcheng to risk his life and livelihood to advocate for disadvantaged people in China is an inspiration to freedom-seeking people around the world," she said.

The Congressional Executive Commission on China, set up to monitor human rights there in 2001, said it remained "deeply concerned that Mr Chen's supporters and family members who remain in China face the real threat of retaliation from Chinese officials".

Fighting injustice

The self-taught lawyer has campaigned against forced abortions under China's one-child policy and was jailed for four years in 2006 for disrupting traffic and damaging property. He was placed under house arrest after his release in 2010.

He will now take up a fellowship at the US-Asia Law Institute at the New York University School of Law.

Bob Fu, president of the US activist group China Aid and a key supporter of Mr Chen, told the BBC that the dissident was planning to stay in New York for two to three years.

After his arrival in the United States, Mr Chen said he hoped "everybody works with me to promote justice and fairness in China".

"We should link our arms to continue in the fight for the goodness in the world and to fight against injustice," he told the gathered crowd at New York University.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    He is an actor for us, so play well there and make them like you. How stupid the us government it is? See you late

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    81. krokodil

    You must be an American then. Why don't you search through the news and see the facts for yourself. Only last week it was reported that the US military are teaching their guys against the muslims! I think that is racism! I think you are the one that is delusional!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    79. Elle Gee 20MINUTES AGO I personally would not set foot in the USA! It's the most corrupted and racist country on the planet.

    Life's good, but even better outside the USA!

    They would not let you in anyway. Your a delusional liar.

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Like many other disidents, Chen's impact on China's progress in human rights is going to fade quickly. He will join those disidents in in-fightings in their persuit for polical influence and fundings in a forenghn land.

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I personally would not set foot in the USA! It's the most corrupted and racist country on the planet.

    Life's good, but even better outside the USA!

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    Chen's escape from house arrest was obviously timed to cause maximum embarrassment to Hilary Clinton and the US Government. It is very impressive how one man has managed to manipulate two superpowers. Others should take note. Now, can we get back to ensuring that the balance of power in Asia is maintained; North Korea is contained; and the value of the RMB is made more realistic?

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    I suspect that all posters that attack pro Chinese posters as CCP employees are themselves CIA sponsored censors and spin doctors.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    What an interesting news? Chen is like a political ball between USA and China. It is shame on USA. How many activists and jounalists locked in Africa and Asia? Still USA and totally the so called democratic governments are doing business with dictators. This kind of STUPID DOUBLE STANDARD PROSTITUE CULURE should be condemned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    Many people are suffering unjustice and unfairness in China. Could them get help from so-called the US activist group China Aid without any prepense selection?!

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    71. Daniel Milloy
    Well, then you must be working for the western propaganda wanting to distabilise China. Does it matter? Since "freedom of expression" is something UK&US have & you brag about, how about letting ppl express their views?
    If you have a point, let's have it; political labelling helps no one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 73.

    71.Daniel Milloy
    That's your democratic right to say. But I guess all the Chinese govern agents are too busy dealing with more important person, like Chen, not playing with you. Only I happened to have to sit at my desk this morning for my capitalist boss, but I am finished now, going out for the sun...... woohoo

  • Comment number 72.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    I get the distinct sense gasmeerkat is in the employ of the Chinese government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    What "non-Han" means? You mean the ethnic minorities in China? If so, then I can assert your view about their plight on this matter are totally misinformed. Talk and listen to more ordinary chinese people, not just the so-called dissidents.

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    So much ignorance about China displayed here and by the BBC,. there. Most contributors never left their western comfort zones. I live in China can you tell that the Chinese Goverment has a plan to improve the overall condition of the people, they have been executing this for the last 15 years while we in the west have been "fiddling while Rome burns" Time to focus on our own problems ! wake up !

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    40 years ago I had a French teacher called Madame Riot (pron. rio) and her lessons were always a riot.
    It's hypocritical to say the least to accuse China of mistreatment of its citizens on the one hand whilst holding out the other hand for trillion-dollar bail-outs.
    The US does not have an orderly ship in terms of onserving international law.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    Nice feel-good story, but I cannot help but believe, Chen being tied to American USAID & NED that his story is anything more than a fairly good piece of propaganda, timed with Clinton's visit to China. Chen hopes "everybody works with me to promote justice and fairness in China".
    Well at least he's back where he belongs.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    And finally, this escape by Mr Chen is actually helpful to the Chinese government as it takes internal attention away from the Bo Xilai case. That may well be why they allowed Mr Chen to leave, as this furore may serve the power grabbers within the CPC, who are not entirely harmonious or cooperative in their actions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Perhaps the best diplomatic hat-trick of recent times.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    He is probably better off personally now, so I can't blame him, but he lost his followers among the ordinary Chinese. He is just another VIP with a nice life in the US which does not relate to them or his cause at all.
    The solution to China's internal struggles is not for the 1.5 billion Chinese to move to the US, but to reform from within.


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