Has the U.S. Government Betrayed Chen Guangcheng?
Matthew Archbold as well as the folks at Hot Air have done a fantastic job covering the story of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. Matt discussed this story a few days ago.
Chen Guancheng is a blind human rights activist who has protested his country’s forced abortions and sterilizations. After months of beatings at the hands of his guards, Chen pretended to be sick and laid up in bed. He and his wife studied the movements of the guards, according to ABC News. In the middle of the night, Guancheng slipped past nearly 100 guards stationed around his home and escaped into the night.
Matt detailed the U.S. government’s less than enthusiastic embrace of Chen, and today we have learned more troubling details that indicate that the administration has betrayed Chen. Ed Morrissey relays this:
Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng says a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities threatened to beat his wife to death had be not left the American Embassy.
Speaking by phone from his hospital room in Beijing on Wednesday night, a shaken Chen told The Associated Press that U.S. officials relayed the threat from the Chinese side.
Chen, who fled to the embassy six day ago, left under an agreement in which he would receive medical care, be reunited with his family and allowed to attend university in a safe place. He says he now fears for his safety and wants to leave.
Chen says that the U.S. government lied to him.
An American official denied that account. The official said Mr. Chen was told that his wife, Yuan Weijing, who had been brought to Beijing by the Chinese authorities while Mr. Chen was in the American Embassy, would not be allowed to remain in the capital unless Mr. Chen left the embassy to see her. She would be sent back to Mr. Chen’s home village in Shandong, where no one could guarantee her safety.
“At no time did any U.S. official speak to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us,” Victoria Nuland, the State Department spokesperson, said in an e-mailed statement. “U.S. interlocutors did make clear that if Chen elected to stay in the Embassy, Chinese officials had indicated to us that his family would be returned to Shandong, and they would lose their opportunity to negotiate for reunification.”…
“At no point during his time in the Embassy did Chen ever request political asylum in the U.S.,” Ms. Nuland said. “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. All our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives.”
As Allahpundit says, this is a distinction without a difference. One way or the other Chen was led to believe that his wife’s life was in danger, or at the very least was threatened with physical harm. Either way, Chen was clearly upset.
“The embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to have people stay with me at the hospital,” he said. “But this afternoon, as soon as I checked into the hospital room, I noticed they were all gone.”
He said he was “very disappointed” in the U.S. government and felt “a little” that he had been lied to by the embassy.
At the hospital, where he was reunited with his family, he said he learned that his wife had been badly treated after his escape.
“She was tied to a chair by police for two days,” he said. “Then they carried thick sticks to our house, threatening to beat her to death. Now they have moved into the house. They eat at our table and use our stuff. Our house is teeming with security — on the roof and in the yard. They installed seven surveillance cameras inside the house and built electric fences around the yard.”
At this point it’s impossible to determine exactly what has happened, and whether or not the State Department and the Obama administration sold Chen out just to remain in China’s good graces. One would like to think the best of this president and assume that he would not betray a heroic dissident in order to keep an evil,authoritarian government happy. One would also have to be hopelessly naive to blindly make such an assumption.