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Entries in Chen Guangcheng (16)

Wednesday
Aug012012

Blind Activist Chen Guangcheng Visits Capitol, Says China ‘Deteriorating’

SAUL LOEB/AFP/GettyImages(WASHINGTON) -- Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese human rights activist who captured international headlines earlier this year after escaping house arrest, met with top congressional leaders at the U.S. Capitol Wednesday to plead for assistance from the U.S. government in standing up for human rights worldwide.

Chen, who spoke to reporters through a translator, said the human rights situation in China today is “deteriorating,” but that “as more and more Chinese people are not afraid to stand up and assert their rights, change in China is inevitable.”

“Great cruelty has resulted from efforts to maintain social stability, resulting in a situation in which there is no ethics, rule of law or justice,” Chen said. “Equality, justice and freedom do not have borders, so I hope all of those who pay attention to human rights in China will continue to work diligently in this regard and even though perhaps all of you do not pay close attention to the development of human rights in China over the last few years, there has been a lot of progress, and I do believe that there will be a movement towards a better society with more civil society and justice.”

House Speaker John Boehner said it was “truly an honor and privilege” to welcome Chen to the Capitol, telling reporters that Chen’s plight “humbles us and reminds us why we cherish life and freedom so much and why we work so hard to preserve and protect these fundamental values.”

“While our economic relationship with China is important, the United States has an obligation to engage China and press for democratic reforms and improvement in its human rights practices,” Boehner, R-Ohio, said. “We cannot remain silent when fundamental human rights are being violated. We cannot remain silent when religious liberty is under attack, and we cannot remain silent regarding China’s reprehensible one-child policy."

“When it comes to guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of all of her citizens, the Chinese government has a responsibility to do better, and the United States government has a responsibility to hold them to account.”

Chen, 40, was arrested in 2005 for condemning China’s one-child per couple law. After hiding out in the U.S. Embassy for a few days in May, Chen eventually sought medical treatment at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing after being told that Chinese officials would have killed his wife if he had remained at the embassy. He later received an exit permit to study in the United States after accepting an invitation from New York University.

In addition to the House speaker, Chen met with other senior House leaders including Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the chair of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, and Reps. Chris Smith, Joseph Crowley and Adam Smith, all prominent advocates in Congress for improving human rights throughout the world.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Thursday
May312012

Activist Chen Guangcheng: ‘No Justice’ In China

State Dept Photo(NEW YORK) — Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng said at the Council on Foreign Relations that laws in China are being “trampled on,” urging the Chinese Communist Party to enforce the country’s existing laws.

In a conversation with Jerome Cohen, fellow at the council and co-director of the U.S.-Asia Law Institute, Guangcheng said that the biggest problem facing his country was, in a word, lawlessness.

“The problem is that laws are put in a drawer and never enacted,” Guangcheng said Thursday, emphasizing that China does not lack laws, but rather the rule of law.

The legally blind activist garnered international attention last month when he arrived at the doors of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing after a dramatic escape from his native Shandong province.

After taking refuge in the U.S. Embassy, he moved to the hospital where he publicly announced that he did not plan to seek political asylum. But just hours later, the  U.S. struck a diplomatic deal with the Chinese government allowing Guangcheng to study in the United States at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at New York University.

“The U.S. holds itself up as embodying democracy and human rights, but what would it mean if they refused to take me in?” asked Guangcheng, who arrived in the United States last week.

Guangcheng said that his friends and relatives back in China have not been so lucky. He said officials are retaliating in a “frenzied way,” citing a litany of human rights abuses. Communist Party officials operate above the law, Guangcheng said, “break[ing] the law because they can.”

He described a harrowing scene after his departure when about 30 “thugs” attacked his brother and nephew with pickax handles. The gang, not in uniform and without search warrants, returned a total of three times in the middle of the night, beating his family severely.

“Really my nephew had no choice but to take a kitchen knife and fight back,” Guangcheng said. “The moral standards are at rock bottom here.” Guangcheng’s nephew is currently at a detention center, without access to his lawyer.

Guangcheng called Chinese authorities “terrible role models,” quoting the ancient philosopher, Confucius, “If you do not act fairly, how can you expect others to behave properly?”

In a New York Times op-ed published this week, Guangcheng voiced his outrage, but also his optimism.

“Although China’s criminal laws, like those of every country, are in need of constant improvement, if faithfully implemented they could yet offer its citizens significant protection against arbitrary detention, arrest and prosecution,” he wrote.

Guangcheng drew a stark contrast between local governments and the central government. The latter may be moving in the right direction, Gaungcheng said, but “the local governments are still very backward and will take longer...to change.”

Guangcheng pointed to the “unprecedented” decision to allow him to leave and study in the United States and encouraged the international community to applaud any forward progress.

When asked whether he saw a Chinese democracy during his lifetime, Chen said he was “very optimistic” that greater freedoms are coming.

“It is true we cannot just copy Western democracies,” he said. “But we also need to learn Eastern democracies like Japan or Korea. What’s wrong with having our own democracy? A Chinese democracy.”

But change takes time, Guangcheng warned.

“You cannot move the mountain in one week,” he said today. “That’s not realistic. We have to move it bit by bit. You can’t expect it to happen overnight.”

As the crowd stood to leave, Guangcheng also stood to offer a final word of encouragement.

“In this world there is nothing that his impossible,” he said, as council members applauded. ”There is no such thing as a difficulty that cannot be overcome.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Sunday
May202012

Chen Guangcheng: Chinese Dissident Arrives US

STR/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and his immediate family arrived in Newark, N.J., Saturday evening, capping off three weeks of roller coaster diplomacy that reached the very highest levels of Chinese government and the White House. After landing at Newark-Liberty International Airport, Chen and his family headed straight to New York University.

Standing on crutches in lower Manhattan, Chen thanked both United States and Chinese officials for how the situation has been resolved since he escaped house arrest and turned up at the U.S. embassy in Beijing in April.

"For the past seven years, I have never had a day's rest," he said through a translator, "So I have come here for a bit of recuperation for body and in spirit."

"I feel like everybody is very passionate," he said. "I will say a few simple words to everyone here. After much turbulence, I have come out ... thanks to the assistance of many friends. The embassy has given me partial citizenship here. I'm very grateful to the U.S. and to the Chinese government for my protection over the long term. Very grateful to other friends like France, who have called in their support. I am gratified the Chinese government dealt with situation with restraint and calm."

Chen and his family were accompanied on the flight by two Chinese-speaking officers from the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and they were met at Newark-Liberty International Airport by State Department personnel and NYU Law School Professor Jerome Cohen.

Chen will be a special student in law at NYU, working with professors Cohen and Frank Upham in the law school, NYU spokesman John Beckman said.

"He has worked with Prof. Cohen in the past and had a standing invitation to come here," Beckman said.

Chen and his family will live in NYU housing, he said.

The human rights activist is best known for his fight against forced abortions and sterilizations under the One Child Policy.

He served a four-year prison sentence for what are widely believed to have been trumped up charges before being placed under a brutal, extra-judicial house arrest in his hometown province of Shandong.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May192012

Chen Guangcheng: Chinese Dissident Leaves for US

(NEW YORK) -- Blind dissident Chen Guangcheng and his immediate family have left China on a flight to the United States. They are expected to arrive in Newark, N.J., Saturday evening.

State Department Spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed that Chen and his family left China so he can pursue studies at an American university.

"We are looking forward to his arrival in the United States later today. We also express our appreciation for the manner in which we were able to resolve this matter and to support Mr. Chen's desire to study in the U.S. and pursue his goals," Nuland said.

Their departure caps off three weeks of roller coaster diplomacy that reached the very highest levels of Chinese government and the White House.

The human rights activist is best known for his fight against forced abortions and sterilizations under the One Child Policy.

He served a four year prison sentence for what are widely believed to have been trumped up charges before being placed under a brutal, extra-judicial house arrest in his hometown province of Shandong.

Several media outlets, as well as human rights supporters in the U.S., cited late May as a potential departure date if all rules for passport applications were strictly adhered to.

But on Saturday, social media reports surfaced that said Chen had left the hospital. By midday, Chen spoke to the AFP to say he was at the airport with his family and while he had no details, he believed they would be leaving that day.

His departure is in some ways bittersweet. His supporters by and large agree the only way he will be truly safe is outside China.

But for Chen, and dissidents before him, leaving is a compromise; he may be safer but he is also farther away from his cause.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Wednesday
May162012

Will Chen Guangcheng Be in the US by Next Week?

STR/AFP/GettyImages(BEIJING) -- Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng could be in the U.S. by next week, as the Chinese dissident who escaped house arrest in April and his family are expected to receive their passports on Monday, May 21.

According to Chinese regulations, travel documents take 15 days to be processed.  Bob Fu, the Texas-based advocate for human rights in China, says the Chen family applied for their passports on May 6.

Fu said that if the passports are held up, there will be cause for real concern.  All paperwork on the U.S. side is in order, as confirmed by State Department Spokesman Victoria Nuland on Tuesday.

When Chen leaves China, he will also leave family and friends behind who continue to suffer abuse inflicted primarily by the local government in his hometown province of Shandong.  A Shanghai-based lawyer representing his nephew, Chen Kegui, says that he has been refused permission to meet with his client.

Chen Kegui is accused of attempted homicide, charges Chen Guangcheng says are completely false.  He says his nephew was defending himself against local authorities who broke into his home following his uncle’s escape from house arrest. 

Several other Chinese lawyers attempting to represent Chen Kegui say they have either been threatened or are suddenly unable to renew their legal licenses.

There are no signs Beijing is spearheading what is happening in Shandong.  But it also does not appear the government is making any effort to investigate or stop the reported abuse, despite the fact the U.S. claimed the Chinese government agreed to do just that in the initial deal it brokered for Chen’s release.

Dissidents, who ask to remain anonymous out of concern for their safety, say it is all too common for Beijing to silently allow abuse by local authorities similar to those Chen’s story has highlighted to continue, as the government sees it as an effective way of containing unrest.

When Chen does leave China, he is expected to travel to New York where he has been offered a visiting scholarship to study law at New York University.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

Bipartisan Group of Senators Push for Chen Guangcheng's Safety

State Department photo/ Public Domain(WASHINGTON) -- In a letter written directly to Chinese President Hu Jintao, a bipartisan group of five senators urges the Chinese government to take steps to protect the safety and well-being of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, his family and associates. Guangcheng captured international headlines earlier this month after escaping house arrest and seeking refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
 
“We strongly urge your government to take all necessary measures to cease the harassment of Mr. Chen, his relatives and associates,” the letter says, “and to guarantee their safety and security while respecting their right to travel freely within and outside China.”
 
The letter was penned by Senators Marco Rubio, R-Fla., Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., Jim DeMint, R-S.C., Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, and Bob Menendez, D-N.J.

[View the full text of the signed letter, sent to President Hu Jintao Tuesday, here.]

But, Sen. Marco Rubio, a potential contender to be Romney’s vice president candidate, took the lead, his office says -- a move potentially intended to beef up the junior senator’s foreign policy chops and leadership in the Senate.
 
Rubio argued earlier this month on Fox News Sunday that the incident shows the administration’s “unwillingness to forcefully assert America’s values.”
 
“This crisis is a reminder of what we’re dealing with in China, and we hope that there are reformers in that government that are pushing for a more open system, but what we know for a fact we’re dealing with now are people who are paranoid and are control freaks in a totalitarian system,” he said earlier this month.
 
Earlier Tuesday, Guangcheng called into a congressional hearing Tuesday to tell the American people, “I am not a hero.”

It’s the second time that Chen, who was arrested in 2005 for condemning China’s one child per couple law, has called into a hearing in the past two weeks after he phoned into a Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing May 3.

“I want to extend my gratitude and thankfulness to all those who care and love my family and myself, and our situation, especially the American people who show their care about the quality of justice as a universal value and I’m very grateful to all of you,” Chen, 41, said on the call Tuesday. “I am not a hero. I’m just doing what my conscience asks me to do. I cannot be silent when facing these evils against women and children.”

After hiding out in the U.S. embassy for a few days, Chen eventually sought medical treatment at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing after being told that Chinese officials would have killed his wife if he had remained at the embassy.

Chen is still awaiting an exit permit to study in the United States after accepting an invitation from New York University. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that visas for Chen and his family have already been approved and the hang-up is apparently in the hands of the Chinese.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
May152012

Blind Chinese Activist Chen Guangcheng: ‘I Am Not a Hero’

STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese dissident who captured international headlines earlier this month after escaping house arrest and seeking refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, called into a congressional hearing Tuesday to tell the American people, “I am not a hero.”

It’s the second time that Chen, who was arrested in 2005 for condemning China’s one child per couple law, has called into a hearing in the past two weeks after he phoned into a Congressional-Executive Commission on China hearing May 3.

This time, Rep. Christopher Smith, the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights, asked the blind legal activist whether he had anything he would like to tell the U.S. people.

“I want to extend my gratitude and thankfulness to all those who care and love my family and myself, and our situation, especially the American people who show their care about the quality of justice as a universal value and I’m very grateful to all of you,” Chen, 41, answered. “I am not a hero. I’m just doing what my conscience asks me to do. I cannot be silent when facing these evils against women and children.”

Smith, R-N.J., said he called Tuesday’s hearing not only to learn about the safety of Chen’s wife and children, but also to rally support from Congress and the White House for Chen’s extended family and friends.

Chen, who spoke personally with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi last week, recounted to Congress how Chinese government thugs raiding his family’s home at midnight “and started beating them violently.” He called a charge against his nephew for intentional homicide “trumped up,” and said it was “totally absurd, irrational, and unreasonable” to be accused of committing that crime against intruders in his own home.

“My elder brother was taken away by these thugs without any reasoning and then they came back and starting beating up my nephew,” Chen said through a translator via speakerphone at the hearing. “What has been done by these public security officers is a total violation against the Chinese’s own constitution and Chinese criminal law and those charges against my nephew is in contradiction of Chinese law as well.”

After hiding out in the U.S. embassy for a few days, Chen eventually sought medical treatment at Chaoyang Hospital in Beijing after being told that Chinese officials would have killed his wife if he had remained at the embassy.

Chen is still awaiting an exit permit to study in the United States after accepting an invitation from New York University. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said that visas for Chen and his family have already been approved and the hang-up is apparently in the hands of the Chinese.

“Eleven days later, Mr. Chen is still in the same hospital room, with his wife and two children under de facto house arrest,” Congressman Smith complained. “Although Mr. Chen is under the impression that his application for a passport was made last Sunday when he was visited by a Chinese official, and under Chinese law blind persons are supposed to be able to apply orally for travel documents, he has not been notified of any further action on the application.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Saturday
May122012

Nephew of Chen Guangcheng Arrested for Voluntary Manslaughter 

STR/AFP/GettyImages(NEW YORK) -- The nephew of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has been charged with voluntary manslaughter, as reports of revenge and retaliation against lawyers surface, the Guardian reports.

A senior lawyer defending Chen told the Guardian that he lost his hearing after being beat by a security official while trying to visit Chen in the hospital last week. Chen's escape from house arrest last month has drawn international attention to China's repressive security policies, and although he is assured of his own safety, there is mounting fear for the well-being of his family and lawyers, the paper says.

His nephew, Chen Kegui, is facing 10 years in prison to the death penalty for attacking intruders with a knife who burst into his home to search for his uncle, according to the Guardian.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May042012

Abby Huntsman: Romney’s Chen Guangcheng Criticism Was ‘Very Foolish’

Ray Tamarra/FilmMagic(NEW YORK) -- Abby Huntsman Livingston, daughter of the former presidential candidate Jon Huntsman, waded into the controversy surrounding the Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng Friday, lambasting both President Obama and Mitt Romney for how they have handled the sensitive diplomatic issue.

Drawing from her experiences living at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, where Huntsman served as the ambassador to China for a year, Livingston said it was “inconceivable” that the United States would allow Chen to leave the embassy, where he sought refuge after escaping from house arrest.

“I spent a year living there and I can tell you from my experience there is no way Mr. Chen or his family would be safe,” Livingston, who is currently serving as a spokesperson for her father, told MSNBC’s Martin Bashir on Friday, adding that the United States should have taken measures to ensure the safety of both Chen and his family.

Livingston’s criticism stopped short of the attacks presumptive GOP nominee Mitt Romney launched at Obama over the incident on Thursday.

Romney, whom Jon Huntsman has endorsed, tore into the Obama administration for allegedly urging Chen to leave the embassy.

“If these reports are true, this is a dark day for freedom and it’s a day of shame for the Obama administration,” Romney told a crowd of supporters in Virginia on Thursday morning. “We are a place of freedom here and around the world and we should stand up and defend freedom wherever it is under attack.”

The current U.S. ambassador to China, Gary Locke, denied the accusation, saying Thursday that Chen “was never pressured to leave.”

Livingston dubbed Romney “very foolish” for wading into diplomatic issues such as this, especially when “he really didn’t have really any facts yesterday about what was going on.”

“What happens in the U.S. embassy in China should be within the hands of the officials on the ground and the State Department,” Livingston said. “It should not be a political issue here in the U.S.”

Abby Huntsman Livingston’s criticism of Romney is reminiscent of her father’s criticism of the former Massachusetts governor four months ago. Then, Huntsman blasted Romney for trying to “start a trade war” by proposing to increase tariffs on goods imported from the Asian nation. Romney, in turn, criticized Huntsman for serving in the Obama administration, “implementing the policy of this administration in China.”

Even after dropping out of the presidential race and endorsing Romney, Huntsman continued to condemn Romney’s policies on China.

In a February interview on MSNBC, Huntsman said the presumptive GOP nominee’s rhetoric toward China “pushes aside the reality, the complexity of the relationship” between America and the Asian nation.

“You sit down at the table with somebody like Xi Jinping, and you say, We’ve got North Korea. We’ve got Iran. We’ve got Pakistan, We’ve got Burma. We’ve got the South China Sea. We have trade and investment, and they all kind of interrelate one with another when you sit down and negotiate a deal,” Huntsman said in the February interview. “That’s just the way the U.S.-China relationship is and has been for 40 years.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
May042012

Chinese Foreign Ministry: Chen Guangcheng May Study Overseas

State Department photo/ Public Domain(BEIJING) -- The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has released a statement saying blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng may apply to study abroad, a move which may be a hint at a possible resolution to the ongoing conflict as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's visit to the country winds down.

The ministry said in a statement in its website that Chen, who is seeking treatment in a hospital after he escaped house arrest on April 22 and sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy, could apply for overseas study "in accordance with laws of relevant departments."

"Chen Guangcheng is currently being treated in hospital. As a Chinese citizen, if he wants to study abroad he can go through the normal channels to the relevant departments and complete the formalities in accordance with the law like other Chinese citizens," the Foreign Ministry said.

Chen, who is a self-taught lawyer, said in his statement Thursday that he has received an invitation from New York University.

Chen had told Congress on Thursday that he wants to meet with Clinton face-to-face and he requested to have his "freedom of travel guaranteed" as he looks to leave China with his family and come to the United States.

"I want to meet with the Secretary Clinton," Chen, 40, said over speakerphone as a translator conveyed his words in English. "I hope I can get more help from her. I also want to thank her face to face."

The blind Chinese activist, who generated international headlines ahead of Clinton's attendance at a summit in China this week, phoned into a congressional hearing today to report to Congress the latest details of his predicament.

After a U.S.-brokered deal that allowed him to stay in China, Chen reportedly begged to depart Beijing on Clinton's plane.

White House press secretary Jay Carney today defended the Obama administration's diplomacy, insisting U.S. officials did not pressure Chen to stay in China when the deal was struck.

"At no point during his time in the embassy did Mr. Chen ever request political asylum in the U.S., and at every opportunity he expressed his desire to stay in China, be unified with his family, continue his education and work for reform in his country," Carney told reporters today. "All of our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives."

Carney, however, repeatedly sidestepped questions about how the White House plans to resolve the ongoing crisis and whether the U.S. would support Chen's request for asylum, referring all inquiries to the State Department.

"We are in conversations now—not we, the State Department folks in Beijing—and I simply can't give you a moment-by-moment update on that," Carney said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio







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