Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who previously sought refuse in the United States Embassy in Beijing, has left the protection of the embassy after telling The Associated Press by telephone that a U.S. official indicated to him that Chinese authorities had threatened to beat his wife to death if he did not leave the embassy.
Guangcheng, who has worked to reform China, is now intent on leaving the country as he fears for the safety of his family as well as himself. Chen was previously under illegal house arrest prior to his daring escape in which he fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing seeking protection from Chinese authorities. He has assisted in exposing abuses in China such as government mandated abortions.
The U.S. State Department denied a great deal of The AP’s report, which was released a short time after Chen departed the U.S. Embassy. He indicated that Chinese authorities had conveyed assurances to him.
NBC’s Ian Williams reported on the blind dissident’s departure from U.S protection, as he indicated that Chen had left the United States Embassy on Wednesday to be reunited with his family and receive medical care after his leg was injured during his dramatic flight from captivity. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland was quoted by NBC News having said:
“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. 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 objective.”
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in Beijing for long-planned negotiations intended to enhance Chinese trade cooperation, among the resolution of other international concerns. VancouverSun.com reported that Clinton spoke with the 40-year-old blind activist by telephone as he departed the US Embassy, he had five English words for her:
“I want to kiss you.”
Zeng Jinyan, a human rights activist and long-time friend of Chen’s family who has been tweeting on the situation, has indicated that Chen may have been forced to accept the offer by Chinese authorities.
Cheng Guangcheng Release Video: