Chen Guangcheng was a celebrated hero for the pro-life movement by exposing and supporting victims of forced abortion campaigns in China. After he escaped the house arrest that followed and sought refuge at the American Embassy, Chen became a household name and an international celebrity.
In recognition of his heroic efforts, GQ magazine has named Chen its “Rebel of the Year” for 2012.
“From the moment I climbed on the plane, I had this feeling—it’s hard to articulate clearly, but it was sorrowful,” Chen says now. “Of course I want to go back. I will inevitably return to China, standing tall. I don’t think China can continue like this forever.”
Some comments from Chen in the interview:
I think I protect the rights of unborn children, the rights of women, and the rights of any citizen. Human rights are not just children’s rights or women’s rights. Men have rights. The elderly have rights. This is a human problem, a fundamental concept.
Am I happy here? I think this is a difficult question to answer. It’s not that I’m unhappy in America, it’s just that I could have been happy wherever I had the freedom to do the work I want to do. This was the main reason I had to leave China: I couldn’t do what I wanted there. I don’t think that being in the United States diminishes my influence. Even in prison, I was able to do some second-order stuff that I never made public. I think influence is based on ability and a little luck, not where you are.
Do I have any regrets? No. What is there to regret? When I need to analyze a decision I’m about to make, I analyze the options based on my thoughts and opinions. I don’t just blindly make decisions, and this one was thought through. I don’t while away my time with regrets, just like I didn’t worry about danger in China.
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Was this the best result? I don’t think so. The best result would be China really realizing constitutional democracy. I think the best result would be going to China or the United States because I wanted to and not because of circumstances.
Of course I want to go back. But after a few days, I might want to leave again. I don’t think China can continue like this forever. Even if the government feels like they can disallow me from coming back, they won’t last forever.