by Steven Ertelt
August 11, 2006
Washington, DC (LifeNews.com) — The Bush administration has asked China to release an activist who is being held by local officials in the eastern city of Linyi after exposing a brutal campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations there. This is the second time Bush representatives have pressed for his release, this time more formally.
Assistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey said she made the request during a meeting of the China-U.S. Global Issues Forum, going on in Beijing.
"We believe that there has been a certain violation of normal standards and are urging China to release him from imprisonment," Sauerbrey said, according to a Washington Post report.
Sauerbrey, a pro-life advocate, is the head of the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.
"For China’s own reputation," Sauerbrey said, "our hope is just that if we keep a focus on the issue, that China will recognize that it is in their best interest to release this gentleman from jail."
According to the Post, Sauerbrey said that China and the United States are both members of the U.N. Commission on Population and Development, which says families have the right to determine on their own how many children they have.
However, China has a family planning policy saying couples can only have one child and those who disobey the policy have been forced to have abortions, jailed, sent to labor camps, and their families have been beaten and threatened with job losses.
"We encourage China at every opportunity to live up to that commitment and to not involve itself in coercive measures, abortion, sterilization," she said, the Post reported.
Chen exposed a family planning campaign that involved officials forcing as many as 10,000 women to submit to abortions or sterilizations.
Anyone who attempted to flee the brutality was apprehended, beaten, and held hostage in city prisons until their relatives came forward and paid large fines for their release.
Chen was later arrested on trumped up charges related to a protest of the house arrests of his family and others. Last year he was organizing a class action lawsuit against the Linyi government when he started coming under persecution.
Local officials were prepared to hold a trial last month, but delayed it for unknown reasons.
Chen’s attorneys say the Chinese government is turning a blind eye because it often allows local governments great leeway in putting down political unrest. They also say leading Chinese officials have been lied to about Chen’s situation.
Linyi officials have persuaded some top Chinese leaders that Chen’s efforts are supported by overseas groups and they successfully lobbied the Foreign Ministry and the powerful Propaganda Department to ban any discussion of Chen’s case in the state media or on the Internet.
Chen and his wife and 70 year-old mother were under house arrest beginning in September last year. The officials cut his telephone lines and used specialized equipment to prevent him from using his cell phone.
Linyi police have placed Chen’s mother, wife and child under house arrest.
Top U.S. diplomats previously pressed the Chinese government to release Chen, but national officials have not intervened. Linyi officials, in late May, prevented two senior U.S. diplomats from trying to visit Chen’s wife.
ACTION: Contact China’s embassy in the United States and encourage officials there to help Chen Guangcheng. You can find contact information at