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.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs