China dissident to stay in China
BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday “of his own volition” after six days, the Foreign Ministry said, and a senior U.S. official said he planned to stay put in China.
China’s Foreign Ministry denounced the United States for meddling in its internal affairs over the Chen affair. But the U.S. official said the two sides had worked “in an intense and but collaborative process” on the case and that the blind lawyer did not want to leave his homeland.
In what appears to be an unprecedented deal for a Chinese dissident, he would be moved to a “safe environment” where he could attend university.
Chen had not requested asylum or safe passage to the United States days after a daring escape from house arrest on April 21, the official said.
“This was an extraordinary case involving exceptional circumstances, and we do not anticipate that it will be repeated,” a U.S. official said.
The apparent resolution of the case came on the eve of high-level U.S.-China talks and with both governments sensitive to the impact of the drama on domestic politics — a U.S. presidential election and a Chinese Communist Party leadership handover later this year.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry’s first public reaction was anger.
“It must be pointed out that the United States Embassy took the Chinese citizen Chen Guangcheng into the embassy in an irregular manner, and China expresses its strong dissatisfaction over this,” ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement.
“The U.S. method was interference in Chinese domestic affairs, and this is totally unacceptable to China. China demands that the United States apologize over this, thoroughly investigate this incident, punish those who are responsible, and give assurances that such incidents will not recur.”
The self-taught lawyer left the embassy by car with U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke, who took him to hospital, The Washington Post said. A Post correspondent spoke briefly to Chen on the phone and said he was fine.
“Just now I tried to see him but I was prohibited from entering (the hospital),” Jiang Tianyong, a Beijing human rights lawyer, told Reuters. “They said ‘he is currently being examined, you’ll have to find another time.’ So right now there’s no way. I can’t get in.”
Just hours earlier, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in China for top-level talks that risk being upstaged by the drama over Chen whose flight to the U.S. Embassy neither China nor the United States would confirm until now.
Rights lawyer Teng Biao said he had spoken briefly with Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, and said that both she and their two children were now in Beijing.
He had no details on how they had been treated since Chen escaped.
“I think the outcome has been positive for China’s human rights situation,” said Li Fangping, a Beijing lawyer who has defended dissidents and protesters. “… it shows that the international community has a role to play in cases like this.”