Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney today, in a Virginia campaign speech, criticized the Obama administration over its handling of the case of Chen Guangcheng, the forced abortion opponent facing persecution in China.
He cited what he called “disturbing” and “troubling” reports from China that the U.S. Embassy there and Obama administration officials failed to fully inform Chen of the threats facing him and his family before he decided to leave the Embassy for a local hospital to seek medical treatment. At the hospital now, Chen is essentially detained by Chinese officials and guards in his hospital room and his future status is unknown.
Romney said he appreciated the fact that Chen chose an American embassy to see his freedom and support but said he was upset how the Obama administration handled his case.
“The reports are, if they are accurate, that our administration wittingly or unwittingly communicated to Chen an implicit threat to his family and also probably sped up or may have sped up his the process of his decision to leave the embassy,” he said.
Romney implied that the Obama administration was more interested in moving ahead with planned economic talks that were slated to begin today rather than helping Chen.
“If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom, and it’s a day of shame for this administration,” Romney said. “We are a place of freedom both here and around the world and we should defend it when it’s under attack.”
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Romney has spoken out repeatedly for Chen, and first brought up Chen’s plight several days ago when it became an international news story following his escape from home detention.
“My concern at this moment is for the safety of Chen Guangcheng and his family,” he said. “My hope is that U.S. officials will take every measure to ensure that Chen and his family members are protected from further persecution.”
Romney continued, “This event points to the broader issue of human rights in China. Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the facts of the Chinese government’s denial of political liberties, its one-child policy, and other violations of human rights. Our country must play a strong role in urging reform in China and supporting those fighting for the freedoms we enjoy.”