News

Alternate Account of Chen Guangcheng Drama Unfolds on Twitter

TOPSHOTS Chinese activist activist Chen Guangcheng (L) is seen in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse at the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing on May 2, 2012. A US official said there would be no repeat of the incident involving the activist Chen Guangcheng, but
TOPSHOTS Chinese activist activist Chen Guangcheng (L) is seen in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse at the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing on May 2, 2012. A US official said there would be no repeat of the incident involving the activist Chen Guangcheng, but

A close associate of a blind Chinese dissident who left U.S. protection in Beijing Wednesday has posted a series of notes on Twitter, saying the press has gotten the story wrong about Chen Guangcheng.

Zeng Jinyan, the wife of activist Hu Jia and a friend of Chen’s, says the dissident lawyer felt pressured to leave the U.S. embassy.

Senior U.S. officials in Beijing who helped negotiate Chen’s case say the activist left the diplomatic compound of his own free will. In a background briefing with reporters, the officials said Chen consistently stated his desire to stay and work in China.

But at about 8 p.m. in Beijing Wednesday, Zeng tweeted in English and Chinese that Chen said he and his family were willing to leave the country. However, she said he felt compelled to abandon the U.S. embassy because he feared for his family’s safety.

That account echoes an interview Chen gave the Associated Press.

VOA was unable to contact Zeng or Chen for comment, but other Western journalists who reached Zeng said she confirmed her Tweets and said she was taking a big risk by speaking with them.

Zeng also tweeted that Chen told U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton during a phone call Wednesday that he wanted to “see her,” not “kiss her,” as U.S. officials reported. A U.S. State Department spokesman dismissed the discrepancy, saying Chen was speaking in “broken English.”

In this photo released by the US Embassy Beijing Press Office, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng makes a phone call as he is accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke on the way to a hospital in Beijing, May 2, 2012.
In this photo released by the US Embassy Beijing Press Office, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng makes a phone call as he is accompanied by U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke on the way to a hospital in Beijing, May 2, 2012.
That phone call was one of many Chen made while driving to a Beijing hospital with U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke after leaving the embassy. He also placed calls to members of the Western press to confirm his departure from the diplomatic compound.

Zeng says before those calls, Chen was not able to contact anyone since Friday.

The Texas-based advocacy group ChinaAid, which has been in contact with Chen since his escape, says it fears the U.S. has “abandoned Mr. Chen.”

"We are deeply concerned about this sad development if the reports about Chen's involuntary departure [from the U.S. embassy] is true," said ChinaAid President Bob Fu in a statement.

The group is demanding the U.S. and Chinese governments release the full details of Chen’s release.

U.S. officials say Chen left the embassy after receiving guarantees from China that he would be relocated to a “safe environment” and be permitted to attend a university. Chen is a self-taught lawyer who fell out of favor with Shandong province authorities after exposing and challenging forced abortions and sterilizations, which are contrary to Chinese law.

Chen’s perilous flight from his heavily guarded home in Dongshigu village to the U.S. embassy in Beijing has presented Washington and Beijing with their greatest test of diplomatic relations in decades. The situation was made even more delicate because of its timing.  The U.S. secretary of state and other senior officials are in Beijing this week for talks that were supposed to focus on North Korea, Iran and Sudan. Instead, Chen’s human rights, an issue Clinton has long championed, became the focus of a week of flurried negotiations that the U.S. diplomats involved say left them sleepless.

When asked by reporters about Chen’s long-term safety, Deputy U.S. State Department spokesman Mark Toner told reporters in Washington the U.S. would continue to seek access to Chen to ensure China’s commitments become a reality.

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Communityi
X
Sharon Behn
August 03, 2015 2:23 PM
A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Iraqi Yazidis Fear Death of Their Community

A year ago on August 3, Islamic State militants stormed the homelands of Iraq’s Yazidi minority, killing hundreds of men and enslaving thousands of women. The scenes of desperate Yazidi families crowding on the top of Sinjar mountain without food or water spurred Kurdish fighters into action, an emergency airlift and the start of the U.S. airstrike campaign against the Islamic State Sunni extremists. VOA's Sharon Benh reports from northern Iraq.
Video

Video Bangkok Warned It Soon Could Be Submerged

Italy's Venice and America's New Orleans are not the only cities gradually submerging. The nearly ten million residents of the Bangkok urban area now must confront warnings the city could become uninhabitable in a few decades. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from the Thai capital.
Video

Video Inclusive Gym Gets People With Disabilities in Fitness Spirit

Individuals with special needs are 58 percent more likely to be obese than the general population. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, they also have an increased likelihood of anxiety, depression and social isolation. But a sports club outside Washington wants to make a difference in these people's lives. With Carol Pearson narrating, VOA's June Soh reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Special Olympics Show Competitors' Skill, Determination

Special Olympics competitions will wrap up Saturday in Los Angeles, and the closing ceremony for athletes with intellectual disabilities will be held Sunday night. In a week of competition, athletes have shown what they can do through skill and determination. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Shooter’s Grill: Serving Food with a Touch of the Second Amendment

Shooter's Grill, a restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, attracts visitors from all over the world as well as local patrons. The reason? Waitresses openly carry loaded firearms as they serve food, and customers are welcome to carry them, too. VOA's Enming Liu and Lin Yang paid a visit to Shooter's Grill, and heard different opinions about this unique establishment.
Video

Video Despite Controversy, Business Owner Continues Sale of Confederate Flags

At Cooter’s, a store in rural Sperryville, Virginia, about 120 kilometers west of Washington, D.C., Confederate flags are flying off the shelves. The red, white and blue battle flag, with 13 white stars representing the Confederate states, was carried by southern forces during the U.S. Civil War in the 1860s. The South had seceded from the Union over several key issues of disagreement, including slavery. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

VOA Blogs