News / Asia

China's Blind Activist to Leave New York University

Chen GuangchengChen Guangcheng
x
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

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs