News

China says Dissident Can Apply to Go Abroad

Chinese security guards block journalists at the entrance of a hospital where blind activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng is recuperating in Beijing, May 4, 2012.
Chinese security guards block journalists at the entrance of a hospital where blind activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng is recuperating in Beijing, May 4, 2012.
Stephanie Ho

Chinese officials say legal activist Chen Guangcheng is free to apply to go overseas if he wants to, and U.S. officials say they expect China to process his travel paperwork quickly. The still developing case of the lawyer, who left the U.S. embassy earlier this week, has overshadowed high-level annual talks between American and Chinese officials. U.S. officials say Chen has been offered a fellowship at an American university.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin's comments Friday seemed to indicate some softening of the Chinese government's position on Chen Guangcheng.

Liu says if Chen wants to study abroad, he may apply according to relevant procedures and through the same channels as any other Chinese citizen.

In answer to a question about whether China has received the apology it had demanded from the United States, Liu said Beijing notes that Washington takes its concerns and demands seriously.

A State Department official says a U.S. university has offered Chen a fellowship that would allow him to bring his wife and children to the country while he studies. The official says the U.S. expects Chinese officials to expeditiously process Chen's travel paperwork.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who just finished two days of annual talks with Chinese officials, called Beijing's statement on Chen encouraging.

"I am pleased that today our ambassador has spoken with him again, our embassy staff and our doctor had a chance to meet with him, and he confirms that he and his family now want to go to the United States so he can pursue his studies," said Clinton.

She said progress has been made to help him, in her words, "get the future that he wants." She added that American officials will stay in touch with him as the process moves forward.

She described the just-concluded Strategic and Economic Dialogue as a regular venue where the two sides can emphasize cooperation but also frankly discuss areas of disagreement.

Chen is currently being treated at a Beijing hospital for a foot injury. Last month, he made a daring escape from heavily guarded house arrest in Shandong province and then last week, he turned up at the U.S. Embassy.

He left the American mission on Wednesday, one day before high-level U.S.-China talks, and was escorted to a local hospital. He initially wanted to remain in China, but he later told supporters and foreign reporters that he has changed his mind, and now wants to go overseas.

Chen underscored his intention to go abroad "to rest," in telephone testimony to a U.S. Congressional hearing in Washington Thursday.

Chinese artist activist Ai Weiwei, who was held in detention several months last year, says he believes the situation for Chen is precarious if he stays in the country.

Ai says all parties involved, both the U.S. and Chinese governments, are in an awkward situation, which he says causes a severely unsafe and unstable situation for Chen and his family.

Ai adds that he believes Chen may have wanted to stay in China, but has become frightened after talking to friends and family. He points to Chen's desire to go abroad as something that should be rational and legal for any Chinese citizen.

Ai admiringly calls Chen "a mouse," and says he is an ordinary person who has suffered so much and carried what he describes as a big burden for the cause of human rights in China.

Chen, who is blind, is a 40-year-old self-taught legal activist. He helped expose forced abortions and sterilizations by Chinese family planning authorities and served four years in jail.

Since he was freed in September 2010, plainclothes security personnel have confined him and his family to his home in rural Shandong, and reportedly have beaten him and his family members.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Jonathan Huang
May 06, 2012 6:26 AM
@ Citizen us , who is the dictator in China? Hu jintao or Wen jiabao? As far as I know, Hu and Wen only have one child. Why dictator has to obey a law? If a dictator obeys laws, you still call him dictator?

by: citizen
May 05, 2012 8:43 PM
Thank you, ‘VOA China! You provide real news to the Chinese people and have them know what was happening in their country, because the Chinese government has cut off the news from the website, so the VOA China has become 95% of the Chinese people the only real news source! We Americans want our media to support the Chinese people to fight for human rights and democracy, the United States is not afraid of any dictator! We hope that the 'VOA China' continue to do so.

by: Jonathan Huang
May 05, 2012 6:55 PM
Chen must go to US and "Chen for ten", I like his new name lol, must have at lease 10 babies in US, come on all those mothers want more baby just go the US embassy for asylum and go to US to have their tons babys! Maybe come here to Canada, come on! our government gonna pay you for more kids! If I am no mistaking it is $400 per month each baby, come on!

by: melvin polatnick
May 05, 2012 5:39 AM
It is called the mothers revolution and their hero is CHEN FOR TEN, he wants large families in China instead of mothers limited to only one child. CHEN FOR TEN says the lord will provide food for the ten billion new babies.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
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 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