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 103.

    It's curious how many people with Anglo-Saxon names write with stilted English with typically Asian grammatical mistakes and parrot the PRC agitprop party line.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    Another useless mouth to feed by the American taxpayer.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    92. krokodil
    In all my travels around the world, I can't help but agree with your comment, surprising as some people may find that.

    Usually the same people who so strongly criticise America are the same people who tell us not to criticise despots because "who are we to criticise?".

    The US may not be perfect but it's detractors are often hypocrites. We either voice opinions on all, or no one.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    Agents of the US cannot be left behind.

    His master is in Texas, hey Joe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Quite a turnout by the 50 Cent crowd for this article. Kind of contradicts the many comments about the article being un-newsworthy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Who is that person holding his arm? Isn't Mr Chen an adult who can stand on his own two feet? There is no reason to treat him like a child just because he is blind and injured. Indeed, he is a person of astonishing accomplishment in the face of uncommon difficulties.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    1.5 Billion is a pretty big can of worms to open! There must be hundreds in that figure fitting his Exact profile. Pretty special.
    Is the message to the 1.5 billion left behind that if they mindlessly multiply, they'll be sent cell phones together with unpublished US Congressional phone numbers? Clever.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    Who laughs last laughs longest, China, US, Mr. Chen? Yes, Mr. Chen!
    But I laugh at the US, hahha

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Good for US, such a nation with diversity, to take a blind man, who can build his future plan by praising evil China for showing restraint. We should learn how to be as flexible as Mr. Chen, who once in the hospital wined that the American Ambassy rescuers haven't been his bedside for a while. Now, Chen can wine harder while in America to take all his relatives and friends to US. How clever!

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    @52.gasmeerkat, you are wrong. Mr.Chen is smarter than Ai. He managed to have two children under china's one-child policy while protesting for many Chinese women who might have already had two children or only one for the reason of not wishing China's future population expanding like India and the expensive educational fee. what's wrong with one child policy, anyway, he has two. Congratulations!

  • rate this

    Comment number 93.


    There must be dust settling somewhere which can be reported on for Dust-groupies holding their breath.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    Of course the United States of America is probably one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. It was built largely on immigration. It has a black president.... who was the last black prime minister??
    As a nation it is one of the most inclusive and diverse nations with a multitude of creeds, races and religions all free from State discrimination.

    Oh yes.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    89. Elle Gee 2MINUTES AGO 88.krokodil

    ... smarter than your average American

    What sort of American? North, south, black, white, Hispanic, Latin???

    I seriously doubt you are by the way..... you carry on thinking you are anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Now Chen's brother claims he is beaten by the evil government too (because they are mad, duh). It's matter of time before he too, will escape from "8 rings of walls and walked 20 hours by himself" just to seek refugee in the US embassy few days before Hillary Clinton's next visit (perfect timing). So he can come to the USA to study, free on everything.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.


    ... smarter than your average American

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    86. Elle Gee 2MINUTES AGO 84. Krokodil

    So now you dredge up UK legislation to excuse your anti USA rant.

    You really are not very bright are you sunshine!?

    So how does your US military Muslim story make the USA the most racist country on the planet?

    I can excuse your liberal whining but at least try and be coherent (Google that word like you Googled your legislation quote) ;-)

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    b neil - "What a shocker when he finds out the US is more corrupt than the country he just left"
    ....What a shocker when YOU find out about TIBET. If the annihilation of a nation full of buddha's peaceful warriors all but for power and greed isn't the epitome of corruption then i'm the statue of liberty. God lord, lets give the yanks half a chance -at least they're not torturing peaceful monks.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    84. Krokodil

    Please see the following extract "The Race Relations Act 1976 and all of its amendments and extensions protect individuals from being discriminated against in employment on the grounds of colour, race, nationality, religious beliefs or ethnicity." I am sure you will find the word 'Racism' is a general term used and covers religion as well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    This Chen character disgusts me. He arrives in New York like a Chinese Michael Jackson putting on a big show of selfcentered narcissism, never stops talking and though supposedly blind he seems to know exactly were the cameras are and can't turn away from them even when led away. Now he expects free goodies in the US, free housing, free education, free everything, because he's Chen The Dissident.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    82. Elle Gee 3MINUTES AGO 81. krokodil

    So they are teaching their guys against the Muslims.


    And you think that's racist
    .....when did Muslims become a race???

    If your going to talk rubbish, at least try and get your words right.


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