Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese forced abortion opponent, is waiting at the U.S. Embassy for the Obama administration and Chinese officials to determine his fate and a deal may be struck allowing him to go to the United States.
An AFP report this afternoon indicates U.S. officials and Chinese authorities are working on a deal that could have the campaigner against forced abortion and sterilizations return to the United States with his family and he fled years of house arrest.
Bob Fu, of ChinaAid, an American group that has worked closely with Chen and his supporters in China, said his understanding is that both China and the U.S. want to end negotiations quickly over Chen so they can focus on economic talks that were planned to begin Thursday, before Chen’s escape from the clutches of family planning officials.
Chen has been reluctant to leave China — preferring to reform the nation and its controversial one-child policy from within and saying that he worries his influence and ability to help the Chinese people would be reduced if he left the country. However, the AFP report indicates Chen is now more open to the possibility of leaving China for the United States.
“The situation has changed on the past few days. He understands that there is no way he could return to Dongshigu now,” Fu told AFP by telephone, referring to Chen’s hometown. “But he won’t leave without his family — if he had thought about that he would already have gone. The most viable scenario is to negotiate a quick deal to allow China to make a face-saving agreement.”
Fu said the deal could have Chen returning to the United States for medical treatment and said both the U.S. and China were “working very actively to find a solution.”
Meanwhile, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney urged the Obama administration today, in an interview with CBS’ Charlie Rose, to make sure Chen is protected.
Romney said Obama should push the Chinese government to make “a real effort” to end abuses like forced abortions.
“He should speak one on one with the key leadership in China and make sure they understand that we’re entirely committed to the principle of human rights, that we do oppose the one-child policy, which Mr. Chen has been opposing for some time,” Romney explained. “That based upon the comments that have been made by Mr. Chen that there should be a real effort taken by the part of, on the part of the Chinese government to make sure that the abuses that have been described against Mr. Chen’s wife and his family stop immediately, that the family is given protection from authorities that have apparently been abusing their civil and human rights, and we should make it very clear that this is an important priority for the United States of America and for the people of the world.”
Chen and his supporters in China had not originally intended for Chen to go to the American Embassy in Beijing. They initially put him up in various homes of backers living in the Beijing area until family planning and Communist Party officials found out about his location and chased his backers in a vehicle — forcing them to make the decision to head for the embassy.
According to a Reuters report:
But by April 26 authorities in Beijing had been informed of the escape and they increased surveillance of prominent activists and potential supporters of Mr Chen. When a fellow activist, Guo Yunshan, was pursued in his car with Mr Chen inside, the decision was made to deliver Mr Chen to the US embassy, Mr Hu told the Herald.
”It was absolutely not a pre-conceived plan,” Mr Hu said. ”It wasn’t that he wanted to go to the embassy once he escaped, or once he got to Beijing.
”It was when we were trying to get him somewhere safe for him to stay that we decided the embassy was the best place. This was a very dangerous situation.’
”He was adamant that he would not apply for political asylum with any country,” Mr Guo told Reuters. ”He certainly wants to stay in China, and demand redress for the years of illegal persecution in Shandong and continue his efforts for Chinese society.”
Mr Hu said he had not been in contact with Mr Chen since he himself was detained for questioning by police for 24 hours on Friday. He said Mr Chen had ”clearly” told him he wanted to stay in China, adding that Mr Chen could have made life much easier for himself if he bowed to authorities before his arrest seven years ago.
”He thinks that in the next few years China can do a lot of things and we can make history together,” he said.
Chen, a blind attorney, had been in captivity at his home after spending years in prison after he was convicted on trumped-up charges engineered by family planning and Communist Party officials for retaliation against his exposing a massive brutal campaign in his local county involving the victimization of thousands in forced abortions and sterilizations.
In a daring rescue attempt, human rights campaigners helped Chen escape his home confinement and took him to an undisclosed location in Beijing — reportedly the U.S embassy — but the Obama administration has given no indication of whether it will provide Chen with political asylum or other diplomatic protection. Leading pro-life campaigners and human rights groups are concerned that if Chen is not protected, Chinese officials may illegally detain him and send him back to prison, home detention or may take his life.
In a press conference yesterday with Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda of Japan in the East Room of the White House, President Barack Obama refused to comment on whether the U.S would offer long-term protection for forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng.
“I am aware of the press reports,” Obama said without naming the human rights activist directly, “but I’m not going to make a statement on the issue.”
Obama claimed that the issue of human rights in China, though he did not mention forced abortions, sterilizations or infanticides specifically, comes up frequently in conversations between American and Chinese leaders.
“What I would like to emphasize is that every time we meet with China, the issue of human rights comes up,” Obama added.
“It is our belief that not only is that the right thing to do because it comports with our principles and belief in freedom and human rights, but also because we actually think China will be stronger as it opens up and liberalizes its own system,” Obama said. “We want China to be strong and we want it to be prosperous, and we are very pleased with all the areas of cooperation that we’ve been able to engage in, but we also believe that that relationship will be that much stronger and China will be that much more prosperous and strong as you see improvements in human rights issues.”
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Obama did not confirm reports from other human rights activists inside and outside China that Chen is currently at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also talked about Chen on Monday, ahead of a planned trip to China, where she will meet with Chinese officials on Thursday and Friday.
“A constructive relationship includes talking very frankly about those areas where we do not agree, including human rights,” Clinton said. “That is the spirit that is guiding me as I take off for Beijing tonight.”
Meanwhile, China’s state-run media has said absolutely nothing about the daring escape Chen Guangcheng made from his house arrest, where family planning and Communist Party officials had kept him detained at home for exposing forced abortions. Other media outlets have glossed over the forced abortion components of Chen’s imprisonment and house arrest.