In 2005, Chen Guangcheng came to prominence after he began to investigate reports of forced abortions and sterilizations in villages in eastern China. Chen, who’s also known as “the barefoot lawyer,” decided to file a class action lawsuit on behalf of women who had suffered brutal and illegal enforcement under China’s one-child policy.
As LifeNews previously reported, last September was the 34th anniversary of the inhumane policy, which has resulted in over 400 million abortions and 37 million sex-selection abortions. The policy has also resulted in infanticide cases, late-term abortions, forced abortions and forced sterilization.
Unfortunately, Chen’s suit was rejected and only one Chinese official was punished, but Chen didn’t give up; instead, he became more outspoken and gave interviews to Time Magazine and other international publications.
At an event last year with Women Rights Without Frontiers, Chen said, “In today’s China, under the Communist rule, the government can put their hand into your body, grab your baby out of your womb, and kill your baby in your face.” He emphasized that “the Communist Party does not represent . . . the Chinese people . . . they have become a public enemy of the Chinese people.” He added that the Communist Party “is many times more dangerous than terrorist groups.”
Now Chen is stirring controversy by contradicting Hilary Clinton’s account of his rescue from China. In Clinton’s book, Hard Choices, she wrote, “we had done what Chen said he wanted every step of the way,” and “all of our efforts with Mr. Chen have been guided by his choices and our values.” However, Chen countered her claim in his 322-page memoir The Barefoot Lawyer.
According to the Telegraph, he said, “The country that most consistently advocated for democracy […] had simply given in.” Chen said that he didn’t have his wished respected like Clinton claimed; rather, the Obama administration pressured him to leave the embassy for a Beijing hospital and forced him to accept an “absurdly inadequate” deal from the Chinese government.
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In fact, Chen said, “Nobody from the (US) Embassy is here. I don’t understand why. They promised to be here. The embassy told me that they would have someone accompany me the whole time. 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.”
In his book, Chen does credit certain Congressional leaders who proved to be “principled and fearless friends of the Chinese people” but Clinton wasn’t one of them. Currently, Chen lives in Washington D.C. with wife and child. He is learning English and working as a fellow in human rights at the Witherspoon Institute, a Princeton-based research center.
“What troubled me most at the time was this: when negotiating with a government run by hooligans, the country that most consistently advocated for democracy, freedom, and universal human rights had simply given in,” he wrote.
Mr Chen, a self-taught lawyer from Shandong Province who has been blind since infancy, described how the initial elation of his reaching the safety of the embassy on April 26, 2012, was soon overtaken by the “colder, clearer realities” of two great powers reaching a face-saving deal.
After his escape from house arrest in his village of Dongshigu under the noses of scores of locally hired guards – described in detail at the start of the book – Mr Chen said he hoped the US would be able to negotiate for him to work and write freely in China.
But as pressure mounted on him to leave the embassy, Mr Chen described the “disappointment and despair” of having to accept a deal that he felt offered no security to himself, or his family and would not stop the Chinese from again restricting his freedoms.
“I hadn’t expected so many people on both sides would be working so hard to get me to leave, without guaranteeing my rights or my family’s safety,” he wrote.
“No one seemed to be putting pressure on the Chinese Communist Party; instead they were dumping shipping containers of weight onto my shoulders to get me to do their bidding. Suddenly I was overcome by sadness and wept.”
In the end Mr Chen, who made his name helping women abused under China’s one child policy and spent more than six years in various forms of detention as a result of his work, said he felt he had no choice but to leave the safety of the US embassy compound.
Mr Chen then went to the hospital but the deal to allow him to study at a Chinese university rapidly unravelled as Mr Chen said he felt the “noose” of Chinese security tightening back around him and suddenly abandoned by the US embassy who initially did not answer their phones.
It was then that Mr Chen appealed publicly appealed to be allowed to go to the United States, memorably speaking live via mobile phone to a specially convened US Congressional committee hearing in Washington DC, saying he no longer felt safe.