Congress to Hold Hearing on Chen Guangcheng, Obama Admin Defensive

International   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 2, 2012   |   6:25PM   |   Washington, DC

Members of Congress will hold an emergency hearing Thursday on the situation regarding Chinese forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng, who has been at the center of a diplomatic feud between the U.S. and Chinese over the past week.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on China, chaired by pro-life Congressman Chris Smith, announced an emergency hearing on the recent developments, set for Thursday afternoon.

“The recent escape of self-trained legal advocate Chen Guangcheng from illegal house arrest has attracted international attention and concern,” a hearing notice said. “On April 22, Chen escaped from his home in Dongshigu village, Linyi city, Shandong province, where he and his family had been detained without charge for 19 months. After escaping from home confinement, Chen met the U.S. Ambassador and Administration officials at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and received medical treatment.”

“Recent reports suggest that U.S. and Chinese officials have negotiated an agreement that would permit Chen and his family to remain in China with assurances from the Chinese government that they can live a normal life. The Commission hearing will address ongoing developments in the Chen Guangcheng case and reported prospects for himself, his family and his supporters. Witnesses will discuss details of the previous detention of Chen and his family under an illegal form of “house arrest,” as well as his escape to seek safety at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. In addition, witnesses will also address Chen’s legal advocacy work,” the hearing notice continued.

“Chen, a self-trained legal advocate who has represented farmers, the disabled and other groups, is perhaps best known for the attention he drew to population planning abuses, particularly forced abortions and forced sterilizations, in Linyi, in 2005. In deeply flawed legal proceedings, authorities sentenced him in 2006 to four years and three months in prison. Following his release in September 2010, Chen, his wife Yuan Weijing, and their six-year-old daughter were subjected to beatings, home confinement and constant surveillance. Throughout the detention, Chinese authorities undertook forceful measures to prevent and harass journalists and supporters who attempted to visit the family,” it said.

Witnesses at the hearing include Bob Fu, Founder and President, of the ChinaAid Association; Chai Ling, Founder of All Girls Allowed; Wang Xuezhen, a human rights advocate; and Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration is coming under criticism from Speaker John Boehner and others, who say they are concerned about Chen’s situation and reports showing Chen may have felt pressure to leave the Embassy after learning of threats against his family. Boehner issued a statement in response to reports showing the Obama Administration released forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng from the U.S. Embassy despite threats against him and his family.

“Like millions of other Americans, I have followed the story of Chen Guangcheng with admiration for his courage and concern for his safety and that of his family,” Boehner said. “I am deeply disturbed by the most recent report by the Associated Press, which suggests Chen Guangcheng was pressured to leave the U.S. embassy against his will amid flimsy promises and possible threats of harm to his family.”

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

CNN reporters spoke with Chen this afternoon and he told the news station he feels the Obama administration let him down and wants to leave China. But, in an interview with Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell earlier in the day in Beijing, CNN indicates the Obama administration is putting out a different story.

Campbell essentially avoids the question of Chen learning of the threats against his family, according to the transcript:

QUESTION: Let’s start with this issue of whether he wanted to leave the Embassy or didn’t want to leave the Embassy. Because some of his friends are saying that Mr. Chen was threatened with his wife being killed if he didn’t leave.

ASSISTANT SECRETARY CAMPBELL: Well, all I can say is I spent an enormous amount of time with him over the course of the last several days. And we have very strict protocols on how we handle these things, and I saw, on at least three occasions, our wonderful ambassador here, Ambassador Locke, ask him specifically, as we are required to do with witnesses around: Mr. Chen, are you ready to leave the Embassy voluntarily? And each time he said, “Zou,” which means let’s do it, let’s go.

And we’re going to be putting some pictures out, and I think what you’re going to see from these is he is excited; he is happy. I think he’s anticipating the struggles ahead, but let me just say that there were a lot – there was a lot of hugging and a lot of really quite genuine warmth between him and us. And I think everyone felt that we had served his interests and we’d worked closely with him in a manner that brought his family together that had been torn apart years ago and really had done something that gives him a chance to have a productive life. It’s not going to be easy, but that’s what he wanted, and we were very grateful to be able to support him.

Tomorrow’s hearing may delve into these questions and others about how Chen was released and his fate from here.

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.

Chen eventually spoke to the media and said 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. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, according to Channel 4, has promised the United States will keep tabs on Chen from here — promising to “remain engaged” with his case.

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.



Sign the Petition: President Obama: Protect Chen Guangcheng

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.

In a daring rescue attempt, human rights campaigners helped Chen escape his home confinement and took him to an, at the time, undisclosed location in Beijing — reportedly the U.S embassy. 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.

China’s state-run media have 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.

What is not in dispute is the fact that the Chines government has subjected men and women to forced abortions, sterilziations, home detention and imprisonment, taken away their jobs and benefits and fined them for violating the nation’s one child policy. As the world watches the plight of Chen Guangcheng and wonders whether President Barack Obama will have the United States offer him long-term diplomatic protection, documents Chen Guangcheng compiled place the focus squarely on why China subjected him to years of house arrest:  brutal forced abortions.

Reggie Littlejohn, President of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers, has released a compendium of Chen Guangcheng’s field notes about forced abortion and sterilization in China and the stories the blind attorney compiled are shocking, even for those familiar with the forced abortion abuses that take place as a result of China’s one-child policy.

“In the astonishment surrounding Chen Guangcheng’s extraordinary escape from house arrest, let us not forget why he was arrested,” Littlejohn told LifeNews. “In 2006, Chen exposed the Chinese government’s systematic, massive use of forced abortion and involuntary sterilization to enforce its “One Child Policy.’”

WRWF obtained a copy of Chen’s field notes and has released the first English translation of them.

“A member of Chen’s team, human rights attorney Teng Biao, drafted this 2005 investigative report into coercive family planning in Linyi City, Shandong Province,” Littlejohn explained. “The report contains extensive witness statements from cases Chen and his team were investigating before Chen was jailed.”