News

    Clinton Urges China to Protect Human Rights

    In this photo released by the U.S. Embassy Beijing Press Office, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng is wheeled into a hospital by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, right, and an unidentified official at left, in Beijing Wednesday May 2, 2012.
    In this photo released by the U.S. Embassy Beijing Press Office, blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng is wheeled into a hospital by U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke, right, and an unidentified official at left, in Beijing Wednesday May 2, 2012.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged China Thursday to protect human rights, at the start of annual talks in Beijing that have been overshadowed by the case of a dissident who is seeking U.S. protection.

    "As part of our dialogue, the United States raises the importance of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Because we believe all governments have to answer to our citizens' aspirations for dignity and the rule of law and that no nation can or should deny those rights," she said.

    VOA’s Ira Mellman spoke with Jerome Cohen, a law Professor at the New York University Law School, Co Director of the US-Asia Law Institute and an Adjunct Senior Fellow for Asia Studies the council of Foreign Relations.

    Professor Cohen spoke with Chen extensively over the past week and was instrumental in drawing up an agreement between Chen and the Chinese government.

    Clinton made no specific mention of Chen Guangcheng, a blind rights activist who escaped from house arrest and sought protection for six days at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Chen left the embassy Wednesday after the U.S. was promised by China that he would be safe and reunited with his family. But hours later he told reporters that his family had been threatened and that he would like U.S. help in leaving China.

    China has already demanded an apology from the U.S. for taking in Chen, calling it an unacceptable intereference in its domestic affairs. Chinese President Hu Jintao did not mention Chen during his opening remarks at the dialogue. But he did say that the U.S. and China "must know how to respect each other" even if they disagree on certain issues.

    U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, to whom Chen has reportedly appealed for help, told VOA that he thinks U.S. officials should boycott the talks if they do not receive a better guarantee for Chen's safety. Smith said he thinks it is possible that Chen decided to leave the embassy out of fear for his family.

    "If what he has said via the press is true - and his interviews and his personal appeals to me - if all that is true, then he should be allowed to leave as quickly as possible with his family to avoid further retaliations and further mistreatment," he said.

    U.S. expert on China Jerome Cohen, who is Chen's friend, says he is unaware of the specific nature of the threats Chen reportedly received after leaving the U.S. embassy. He told VOA the last time they talked, Chen was excited about the idea of staying in China and reuniting with his family.

    "My last talk with him was when he agreed that it sounded like an exciting idea, that was good, and would keep him in China and although he knew there were risks, he knew it would be worthwhile, and it would allow him to be reunited with the family, and it would allow him for the first time now the formal opportunity to study law and to develop cooperative relationship in China and the outside toward building a genuine legal system," he said.

    Cohen urged rights groups and social networks not to undermine U.S.-China agreement regarding Chen.

    Related video report by Scott Stearns

    State Department spokeswoman Mark Toner told reporters Wednesday that U.S. officials had received no threats from China regarding Chen and that the activist wants to pursue educational opportunities and continue his work in China.

    "This was a decision that he reached with us through our interactions with the Chinese authorities -- that he wanted to stay in China, that he wanted to pursue his studies, that he wanted to continue his work.  We tried to work with him so that he could achieve these goals.  We believe we did that.  He wanted to stay in China. He did not want to seek political asylum," he said.

    After the agreement was reached, U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke accompanied Chen to a hospital where he was given medical treatment and reunited with his family.

    U.S. Secretary of State Clinton said in a statement earlier Wednesday that she was pleased that U.S. officials were able to facilitate Chen's stay and departure from the embassy "in a way that reflected his choices and our values."  A U.S. official earlier said Chen had spoken by phone with Clinton and thanked her for supporting his case.

    Chen, under house arrest since 2010, escaped from detention on April 22 and later took shelter in the U.S. embassy, sparking a diplomatic standoff.

    China's official Xinhua news agency Wednesday reported Chen's departure from the embassy.  It said Chen had stayed at the facility for six days before leaving "of his own volition."

    Chen is a lawyer and human rights activist who has been blind since childhood. He was given a four-year prison sentence in 2006 for exposing abuses under China's forced abortion policy aimed at population control.  He had been under house arrest since 2010, before escaping on April 22.

    He posted an Internet video last week saying he, his wife, and young daughter were abused during his house arrest.  He also called on Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao to investigate human rights abuses in China.

    "Chinese Dissidents Who Have Left Their Homeland"

    Fang Lizhi Fang Lizhi: The leading astrophysicist stayed at U.S. Embassy for 13 months after China's 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square. He left China in 1990 and died this year in the U.S.
    Wei Jingsheng Wei Jingsheng: The democracy activist flew to the U.S. in 1997 after more than 14 years in prison.
    Rebiya Kadeer Rebiya Kadeer: Convicted of endangering state security, the Uighur rights activist now lives in the U.S.
    Wu'er Kaixi Wu'er Kaixi: The student leader fled China with the help of a secret network after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.
    Liao Yiwu Liao Yiwu: Known for "The Corpse Walker" interviews with people on the margin of Chinese society, he fled to Germany in 2011
    Yu Jie Yu Jie: Authored a book critical of Premier Wen Jiabao and left for the U.S. in 2012 after being detained repeatedly and beaten.

    Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    
    by: kangzhuoli
    May 02, 2012 7:25 PM
    what happened?i got no news in China about it.I am 25 but never vote.it is China.

    by: Qu Qiang
    May 02, 2012 6:47 PM
    Again, before every significan talk or meeting betwwen US and China, there will always be a conflicting story happen, could it be for a topic at our conversation? ok, ENOUGH, we have got more importqwant things to discuss for our mutual benefits.

    by: janeDoe
    May 02, 2012 5:18 PM
    So sad...much like the Iranian scientist that America sold back to Iran, this poor person will be found beheaded behind the US embassy. The story reads "threats against his family were never expressed to us (US Administration Officials) by the Chinese Government..." Really? The corporate shrills running your country have just sent another poor soul to his death...all for corporate greed.

    by: Paolo
    May 02, 2012 3:32 PM
    I can not believe that the USA especially President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton sold out this poor freedom fighter and led him to his death. This is dispicable! I believe that the USA intentionally lied to this man just for a few pieces of Chinese silver! SHAME ON YOU OBAMA!

    by: Bill
    May 02, 2012 3:13 PM
    Another story too satisfy the smarmy corporate world .The US sold him out.His bones will never be found.

    by: Mike
    May 02, 2012 1:48 PM
    We all know China is run by dictators and that there are no basic civil rights for the people. We still buy their cheap products and sell them our natural gas resources. Fine. Just don't let Mr. Chen come to the U.S. We don't need another problem right now. He should stay in China and make his mark there.

    by: Rob
    May 02, 2012 11:12 AM
    the blind leading the blind. in the land of the blind the one eye'd man is king

    by: Leona Cox
    May 02, 2012 11:04 AM
    Good Luck to Chen and his Family, they have suffered enough.

    by: JohnDoe
    May 02, 2012 10:25 AM
    Just another sensational story encouraged and created by western media.
    Comments page of 2
     Previous    

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeasti
    X
    June 29, 2016 6:15 PM
    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora