News / Asia

China's Blind Activist to Leave New York University

Chen GuangchengChen Guangcheng
Chen Guangcheng
Chen Guangcheng
Natalie Liu
The blind Chinese activist who arrived in the United States last year will be leaving New York University at the end of this month.  News of Chen Guangcheng's departure from the university has caused a stir in the media, with some reports accusing NYU of having kicked the activist out in order to appease the Chinese government.

NYU has been home to Chen, his wife and two children since they arrived in the U.S. on May 19, 2012.  The university has provided him with an office and a nearby apartment, according to a university spokesman and others familiar with Chen's circumstances.

The head of NYU's U.S.-Asia Law Institute, Jerome Cohen, helped arrange Mr. Chen's departure for the United States after he had spent six days in the U.S. embassy in Beijing.  Cohen issued a statement Thursday saying "no political refugee, even Albert Einstein, has received better treatment by an American academic institution than that received by Chen from NYU."  Cohen added that Chen "now is in the process of choosing between two attractive opportunities."

Earlier, the Financial Times reported that Mr. Chen has been offered a three-year contract to work at the Witherspoon Institute, a pro-life research institute based in Princeton, New Jersey, while also in negotiations with another New York-based university on becoming a visiting scholar.  On Thursday, Fordham University's senior director of communications, Bob Howe, said the school is in negotiations with Chen.  But he would not comment further.

The New York Post, which first reported the story of Chen's imminent departure from NYU, describes him as "scrambling to find a new home."  The newspaper notes that NYU is negotiating with China to open a branch campus in Shanghai and suggests that is behind the decision for the Chinese dissident's departure.  NYU denied that in a statement released Thursday, saying Chen's status "has never come up" during the Shanghai campus negotiations.

Arthur Waldron is the Lauder professor of international relations in the Department of History at the University of Pennsylvania and a long-time observer of U.S.-China relations.

"NYU did the right thing in accepting him.  The circumstances of his departure are not clear.  Some people are saying that it is unrelated to NYU's goal of opening a campus in China," Waldron said.

Waldron, a known critic of a "soft" approach toward China, says he worries that the U.S. government and institutions are getting too cozy with a government that is not democratically elected and does not necessarily represent its citizens' rights or wishes.

"What we're seeing is that university after university, though not all universities, and think tanks and other organizations, too, are compromising their basic principles of human rights, freedom of speech, and so forth, in order to obtain something from this autocratic regime, for instance a campus in China, or access, yes," Waldron said.

Waldron says the Chinese have come to the conclusion that most Americans and most American institutions will sacrifice their principles for money.

Chen, who is 41, first gained international recognition as a defender of rural Chinese women who went through forced sterilizations or forced late-term abortions.  He has continued to criticize the Chinese government since arriving in the U.S.  He says Chinese authorities still harass his family.

In a conversation with NYU Law School staff, Chen expressed optimism about China's future: "It is not important whether the leaders [of China] change; the most important thing is whether citizens have the consciousness to recover their own rights.  All in all, the awakening of the Chinese people is occurring at the speed of a thousand miles a day -- yi ri qian li ... the historical development is inevitable; I do not think any force can stop it."

You May Like

Germany Celebrates 25 Years of Unity

October 3 is a public holiday, marking the day in 1990 when East Germany and West Germany reunited More

Analysts: Russia's Syria Strikes Shake Regional Powers

If Moscow bolsters Assad, Saudi Arabia, other Gulf countries may feel obliged to step in More

Video Innovative Nano-Tech Water Filter Prevents Disease

It can absorb contaminants like copper, bacteria, viruses and pesticides, says Askwar Hilonga, who has been successfully trying out his product in Arusha More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europei
Luis Ramirez
October 02, 2015 4:45 PM
European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video Russia’s Syria Involvement Raising Concerns in Europe

European nations are joining the United States in demanding that Russia stop targeting opposition groups other than the Islamic State militants as Russian warplanes continue to conduct raids in Syria. The demand came in a statement from Britain, France, Germany, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the United States Friday. VOA Europe correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Video First Self-Driving Truck Debuts on European Highways

The first automated semi-trailer truck started its maiden voyage Friday, Oct. 2, on a European highway. The Daimler truck called 'Actros' is the first potentially mass-produced truck whose driver will be required only to monitor the situation, similar to the role of an airline captain while the plane is in autopilot mode. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video Nano-tech Filter Cleans Dirty Water

Access to clean water is a problem for hundreds of millions of people around the world. Now, a scientist and chemical engineer in Tanzania (in East Africa) is working to change that by creating an innovative water filter that makes dirty water safe. VOA’s Deborah Block has the story.

Video Demand Rising for Organic Produce in Cambodia

In Cambodia, where rice has long been the main cash crop, farmers are being encouraged to turn to vegetables to satisfy the growing demand for locally produced organic farm products. Daniel de Carteret has more from Phnom Penh.

Video Migrant Influx Costs Europe, But Economy Could Benefit

The influx of hundreds of thousands of refugees and migrants is testing Europe’s ability to respond – especially in the poorer Balkan states. But some analysts argue that Europe will benefit by welcoming the huge numbers of young people – many of them well educated and willing to work. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

Video Botanists Grow Furniture, with Pruning Shears

For something a bit out of the ordinary to furnish your home, why not consider wooden chairs, crafted by nature, with a little help from some British botanists with an eye for design. VOA’s Jessica Berman reports.

Video New Fabric Helps Fight Dust-Related Allergies

Many people around the world suffer from dust-related allergies, caused mainly by tiny mites that live in bed linen. Polish scientists report they have successfully tested a fabric that is impenetrable to the microscopic creatures. VOA’s George Putic has more.

Video Burkina Faso's Economy Deeply Affected by Political Turmoil

Political turmoil in Burkina Faso over the past year has taken a toll on the economy. The transitional government is reporting nearly $70 million in losses in the ten days that followed a short-lived coup by members of the presidential guard earlier this month. The crisis shut businesses and workers went on strike. With elections on the horizon, Emilie Iob reports on what a return to political stability can do for the country's economic recovery.

Video Fleeing Violence, Some Syrians Find Refuge in Irbil

As Syrians continue to flee their country’s unrest to seek new lives in safer places, VOA Persian Service reporter Shepol Abbassi visited Irbil, where a number Syrians have taken refuge. During the religious holidy of Eid al-Adha, the city largely shut down, as temperatures soared. Amy Katz narrates his report.

Video Nigeria’s Wecyclers Work for Reusable Future in Lagos

The streets and lagoons of Africa's largest city - Lagos, Nigeria - are often clogged with trash, almost none of which gets recycled. One company is trying to change that. Chris Stein reports for VOA from Lagos.

Video Sketch Artist Helps Catch Criminals, Gives a Face to Deceased

Police often face the problem of trying to find a crime suspect based on general descriptions that could fit hundreds of people in the vicinity of the crime. In these cases, an artist can use information from witnesses to sketch a likeness that police can show the public via newspapers and television. But, as VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, such sketches can also help bring back faces of the dead.

Video Thailand Set to Build China-like Internet Firewall

Thai authorities are planning to tighten control over the Internet, creating a single international access point so they can better monitor content. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok on what is being called Thailand’s own "Great Firewall."

Video Croatian Town’s War History Evokes Empathy for Migrants

As thousands of Afghanistan, Iraqi and Syrian migrants pass through Croatia, locals are reminded of their own experiences with war and refugees in the 1990s. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from the town of Vukovar, where wartime scars still are visible today.

Video Long Drought Affecting California’s Sequoias

California is suffering under a historic four-year drought and scientists say even the state's famed sequoia trees are feeling the pain. The National Park Service has started detailed research to see how it can help the oldest living things on earth survive. VOA’s George Putic reports.

VOA Blogs