China activist Chen Guangcheng leaves US embassy

 
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng (L) is seen in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse at the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing. Mr Chen is said to be happy with the arrangement

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Prominent Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng has left the US embassy in Beijing, a week after seeking shelter following his escape from house arrest.

Mr Chen's lawyer said the activist was "happy" after receiving "clear assurances" from Beijing that he would be free to stay in China and study.

However, some friends said Mr Chen was reluctant to stay in China and chose to do so after threats to his family.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Beijing for high-level talks.

Mr Chen's case has threatened to overshadow the talks, which are due to focus on issues like Syria and trade.

Mrs Clinton said the US would follow Mr Chen's fate in the long term.

Clinton message

Mr Chen was driven from the US embassy to a VIP section of Chaoyang Hospital for a check-up, before being united with his wife and two children.

He was accompanied to the hospital by US ambassador Gary Locke and other US officials.

Analysis

Chen Guangcheng has apparently been given assurances that he and his family will be moved to a "safe environment" inside China.

He told a friend that he believes he now has "true freedom" in his homeland.

But that is not assured.

China's ruling communist party does not tolerate much criticism. Activists and dissidents are routinely kept quiet.

The Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo is currently serving an 11-year prison sentence for suggesting political change.

So if Mr Chen continues to speak out against injustices, it is difficult to see how he will be able to live free from interference.

The US is also in a tricky position if the deal backfires. It says it will continue to monitor the activist's status.

But it will have little power to force China to stick by its promises.

Some 20 police officers ordered journalists to leave and detained one protester carrying a banner reading "Free Guangcheng. Democracy for China", Agence France-Presse news agency reported.

The BBC's Damian Grammaticas met Mr Chen's wife at the hospital. She told him that she and their two children were well.

State news agency Xinhua said Mr Chen left the embassy "of his own volition".

In a statement, Mrs Clinton said: "I am pleased that we were able to facilitate Chen Guangcheng's stay and departure from the US embassy in a way that reflected his choices and our values.

"Mr Chen has a number of understandings with the Chinese government about his future, including the opportunity to pursue higher education in a safe environment," she said.

"Making these commitments a reality is the next crucial task. The United States government and the American people are committed to remaining engaged with Mr Chen and his family in the days, weeks, and years ahead."

After leaving the US embassy, the Chinese dissident had a telephone call with Mrs Clinton in which he reportedly said: "I want to kiss you."

Mr Chen's lawyer Li Jinsong said he had spoken to his client on the phone. He said Mr Chen was "very happy and wants to hug all his friends".

Mr Li said the dissident had told him he now had "true freedom", his rights were now protected by the national law and he was "a free citizen".

'Threats' to family

However, a close friend of Mr Chen told Associated Press that the dissident had chosen not to go to the US because he had been warned his wife would face recriminations if he did so.

Zeng Jinyan, herself an activist in Beijing, told the BBC she had spoken to Mr Chen and learned he had opted to stay in China to protect his family.

Chen Guangcheng

Chen Guangcheng (file photo 2006)
  • Born 12 Nov 1971
  • Nicknamed the 'Barefoot Lawyer'
  • Went blind as a child
  • Campaigned for women forced to have abortions or sterilisation under China's one child per family policy
  • Jailed for four years in 2006 for disrupting traffic and damaging property
  • Released from jail in 2010 placed under house arrest
  • Daughter barred from school during much of 2011, reports say
  • Escapes house arrest, April 2012

Ms Zeng said that Mr Chen "had no choice" because "thugs with sticks" were waiting for him and his family in their home village in Shandong province.

She said: "It's impossible, he couldn't do anything. He said, 'please help me'."

Bob Fu, of Texas-based rights advocacy group ChinaAid, said reliable sources had also told it that Mr Chen had left the embassy because serious threats to his immediate family members were made by the Chinese government.

"We are deeply concerned about this sad development if the report about Chen's involuntary departure is true," Mr Fu said.

These reports contradicted one US official, who said Mr Chen had "made clear from the beginning that he wanted to remain in China, and that he wanted his stay in the United States Embassy to be temporary".

The official, who wanted to remain anonymous, said the dissident had gone into the embassy on 26 April "requesting medical treatment from the embassy" - which had been given.

The official said China had "acknowledged that Mr Chen will be treated humanely while he remains in China.

"He has been reunited with his family - his wife and two children - at the hospital, and they remain together with him as a family. He had not seen his son in a few years, and his wife had not seen [the son] either, so this was a family reunification after a long and difficult separation."

Mrs Clinton said she was glad to have the chance to speak to Mr Chen and "to congratulate him on being reunited with his wife and children".

Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin earlier said Mr Chen had been taken into the US embassy "via abnormal measures", the Chinese authorities were "strongly dissatisfied", and the US should apologise.

Mr Chen, who has been blind since childhood, has long been a high-profile figure and international rights groups have frequently expressed alarm at the treatment of him and his family.

He was placed under house arrest in 2010 after spending more than four years in jail for disrupting traffic and damaging property.

Mr Chen exposed how local authorities in Linyi, in Shandong, forced thousands of women to have abortions or be sterilised as part of China's one-child policy.

Mr Chen's colleagues said the escape from house arrest had taken months to plan, and was carried out with the help of a network of friends and activists.

He scaled the wall that the authorities had built around his house, and was driven hundreds of miles to Beijing, where activists say he stayed in safe houses before fleeing to the embassy.

Several people involved in Mr Chen's escape have been detained or have disappeared in recent days.

 

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  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 100.

    > 12. DumindaAm - Is AMERICA this desparate for china's Money ?

    It already has borrowed 2.5 trillion US dollars from China. Maybe America is just desperate China doesn't call in the loan or trade the debt obligations to somebody else who may be less understanding.

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 99.

    Hopefully he will not express any of his negative opinions about China when travelling on a tram. That is a serious offence here and would be in China, the country our leaders are determined to imitate.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 98.

    The best thing for China to do now is to allow Chinese people to have more children if they want a larger family.

    This will make the likes of Chen and those local Chinese authorities go away from China news.

    By 2020 China can reach 3 billion people and Chen can run for pres of China.

  • Comment number 97.

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

  • rate this
    -6

    Comment number 96.

    First, let us never forget that the communist government is corrupt, oppressive, and powerful.

    Second, let us mark this day as the most shameful in the history of the USA. Obviously Mr.Chen was not smuggled a thousand miles throughout communist China after escaping imprisonment only to leave this sanctuary of his own volition.

    Mr.Chen was sold out by a weak US government. Period!

  • rate this
    +1

    Comment number 95.

    @ 71 schneetag - our govt and fat cat do what they do not us the people of the country, so one thing have nothing to do with the other. Secondly, deprived a human of his/her free voice is not right and as a human being, we have right to critisize and attack.

  • rate this
    +3

    Comment number 94.

    This has to be one of the strangest articles I have ever read. It reads like this man has been summarily 'dismissed' because he got in the way of the intentions of two mighty nations. He's held under house arrest for months, escaped to an American Embassy, and is now freed because all is forgiven? Something rotten here. Very rotten indeed.

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 93.

    They can breathe freely the air of democracy abroad and leisurely talk about
    their "peaceful non-violent transition" as a gentleman. That's theirs,none of hundreds of thousands of Chinese domestic ordinary people . They just same as the FALUNGONG,talk about "Chinese democracy " in their mouth,they never feel the suffering of ordinary Chinese people, definitely never and ever! ! ! ! ! ! !

  • rate this
    -4

    Comment number 92.

    one of those zillions saucers in the porcelain should be flying, no? then make one of the beagles wreck on the Moon. What ey spectacular firework sometimes... Till then, Cayman ;)
    Nice Nike t-shirt that geezer has been wearing last week. Next generation will launch a muffin to the greener house at the neighbour's, so whitebread-ish.

  • rate this
    -1

    Comment number 91.

    We should be concerned what happens in China & how the the world is evolving. Politics is thorny, but the world as a whole is evolving in the right direction. We unfortunately exist at a point in time of over population. Near future of numerous natural resource exhaustion, compounded with economic & political strive. Difficult, but we shall overcome & emerge closer as one humanity.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 90.

    Cheap labour, long working hours, minimum social benefit and healthcare, damaged environment, Chinese export cheap products to the West, can we get some positive influence from the West in return?Rooselvelt's four freedoms ought to be enjoyed by "people everywhere". But the reality is, not mention about Chen, or Ai even Bo would disappear without proper legal procedure, we still live in 1984.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 89.

    China is not overpopulated. It is just a propaganda. China now has too few women, and 2 generations now of 'only children' who must take care of both their aging parents and 4 grandparents with no siblings to help.
    Go to [Unsuitable/Broken URL removed by Moderator] where it shows how brutal this regime is when they forced the women having the late abortion.
    Blind activist Chen is a freedom fighter.

  • rate this
    -2

    Comment number 88.

    for me what is happening over the is not good for some one to have one child and Campaigned for women forced to have abortions or sterilisation under China's one child per family policy is not good and when god make man he did not say any thinking like just to have one child and now we can not tell how mean the have abort and the ones have do it and can not have a baby again in dray life

  • rate this
    +14

    Comment number 87.

    8 Bauer - The 2012 F1 calendar also includes a stop over in Texas, a state known for executing mentally handicapped people, in a country that is known to torture people and hold them for years without trial in an overseas prison camp.

    A few human rights violations there too, yet no-one seems to mention it either. Curious, isn't it?

  • rate this
    -3

    Comment number 86.

    Hi,here you almost cannot hear Chinese people's voice because the Chinese communist party authority close internet contact.
    Please check here you can get some answer :
    https://twitter.com/#!/salvagechina

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 85.

    "Chen's flight into U.S. hands gave Washington and Beijing a delicate human rights crisis at a time when they are trying to shore up shaky relations to deal with the unsteady global economy and trouble-spots from Iran and Syria to North Korea."


    The world means nothing if Chen cannot have his way in China.

    Chen is now under Obama and American protection, he is an American hero.

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 84.

    There is no morality amongst politicians
    HERE IS WHAT I SHOUTED TO SOME
    so-called "overseas pro-democracy activists"
    "peaceful non-violent transition"
    This is the glorious title of all the overseas democracy movement fighters.
    Facing China communist authority,which is 10M times worse than fascist,facing the increasingly more difficult living environment,

  • Comment number 83.

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

  • Comment number 82.

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

  • rate this
    0

    Comment number 81.

    Honestly though I think he should ask for asylum for himself and his family. It's just too risky for him and his family to stay in China. But the reason he decided to stay there probably because he loves his country.

 

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