Chen Guangcheng: Obama Admin Abandoned Me, Wants to Leave China

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 2, 2012   |   1:54PM   |   Beijing, China

Following early reports that the United States and China struck a deal for Chen to reportedly stay in China, the forced abortion opponent says the Obama administration has abandoned him and he now seeks help in leaving the country.

Chen was reportedly pressured to leave the U.S. Embassy and accept the deal the United States struck with China to release Chen from its temporary protection.

Chen has left the U.S. Embassy and headed to a local hospital for medical treatment following his years of house arrest by family planning and Communist Party officials. Late last week, Chen fled his hometown after escaping and supporters drove him to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after they were unable to keep him safe in homes in the Asian nation’s capital. When Chinese authorities attempted to apprehend him, he fled to the U.S. Embassy for protection.

U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke escorted Chen, according to an AP report, to the Chaoyang Hospital. However, the human rights group ChinaAid says received reports from reliable source that Chen’s decision for departure from the U.S. Embassy was done reluctantly because “serious threat to his immediate family members were made by Chinese government” if Chen refused to accept the Chinese government’s offer.

Now, Chen has spoken to the media for the first time and says he has been abandoned at the hospital.

“Nobody from the (US) Embassy is here. I don’t understand why. They promised to be here,” he told Channel 4, saying he had received promises he would have U.S. personnel with him there.

Asked if he was at the hospital because of his health, Chen told Channel 4, “No. I came because of an agreement. I was worried about the safety of my family. A gang of them have taken over our house, sitting in our room and eating at our table, waving thick sticks around. They’ve turned our home into a prison, with seven cameras and electric fence all around.”

He also said he wants to stay in China:  “My biggest wish is to leave the country with my family and rest for a while. I haven’t had a Sunday [rest-day] in seven years.”

The Obama administration is disputing Chen’s account, saying Chen wanted to stay in China and that it negotiated with the Chinese on that ground. Secretatry of State Hillary Clinton, according to Challen 4, has promised the United States will keep tabs on Chen from here — promising to “remain engaged” with his case.

“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,” she said in a statement asking Chinese officials to leave Chen alone.

But House Speaker John Boehner said Wednesday he was disturbed by reports that Chen was pressured to leave the U.S. Embassy.

“In such a situation, the United States has an obligation to stand with the oppressed, not with the oppressor,” Boehner said in a statement.

Chen repeated the same things in an interview with the Associated Press from his hospital room.

Hours later, however, a shaken Chen told The Associated Press in a telephone interview from his hospital room that U.S. officials told him the Chinese authorities would would have sent his family back to his home province if he remained inside the embassy. He added that, at one point, the U.S. officials told him his wife would have been beaten to death.

“The embassy told me that they would have someone accompany me the whole time,” he said. “But today when I got to the ward, I found that there was not a single embassy official here, and so I was very unsatisfied. I felt they did not tell me the truth on this issue.”

“I think we’d like to rest in a place outside of China,” Chen said, appealing again for help from U.S. officials. “Help my family and me leave safely.”

AP also reported that the Obama administration disputed Chen’s claims about how the negotiations went down.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in a statement that no U.S. official spoke to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did the Chinese relay any such threats to American diplomats, she said. She did confirm that the Chinese intended to return his family to their home province of Shandong, where they had been detained illegally and beaten by local officials angry over Chen’s campaigns to expose forced abortions, and that they would lose any chance of being reunited.

“At every opportunity, he expressed his desire to stay in China, reunify with his family, continue his education and work for reform in his country,” Nuland said. “All our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives.”

The differing accounts could not be immediately reconciled. But the turn in Chen’s fate comes after nearly seven years of prison, house arrest and abusive treatment of him and his family members by local officials.

Channel 4 News producer Bessie Du talked about the conversation with Chen:

Sign the Petition: President Obama: Protect Chen Guangcheng

“He sounded firm in the beginning when I ask him what he wanted to tell the world. I asked him if he told the embassy that he wanted to leave China, he said: ‘no, because I didn’t have enough information (to make a decision)’. Later he got more anxious and started crying: ‘I’m very sad..(long pause)..’ I asked: ‘what are you sad about?’ and he said: ‘everything I’ve been through in the last few days’. I think he really doesn’t know what to do now, especially after he heard about the threat his wife and children have received. His friends also tell him that he cannot rely on the “assurance” from the Chinese authority.. This confuses him even more.”