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Blind Chinese Activist Meets With US Lawmakers

CAPITOL HILL — Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident, attended a close-door meeting with some top U.S. lawmakers on Wednesday.

House Speaker John Boehner held the rare bipartisan meeting, joined by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other U.S. legislators.

In a short press conference before the meeting, Chen expressed strong concerns for his nephew, Chen Kegui, who has been arrested by Chinese authorities. He said the arrest of Chen Kegui is essentially a continuance of his own case.

The United States raised Chen’s case during the 17th US-China Human Rights Dialogue, also expressing concerns about the arrest of his nephew.

Chen said Chinese central government officials have not contacted him for any progress on the open investigation they promised to conduct when he escaped to Beijing from his home town Shandong, where he was held in house arrest.

“If a case as high-profile as mine cannot be properly handled in accordance with Chinese law and with international legal norms,” Chen said, “how are we able to believe that China will respect human rights and the rule of law?”

Chen said the human rights situation in China is deteriorating, which had led to an increasing number of people whose rights have been violated to rise up and protest. “Change in China is inevitable.” he said.

Chen hopes the United States and other democratic nations can support and assist with a smooth transition in China.

House Speaker Boehner said the United States cannot remain silent when fundamental human rights are being violated.

“When it comes to guaranteeing the freedom and dignity of all of her citizens, the Chinese government has a responsibility to do better. And the United States government has a responsibility to hold them to account,” he said.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi thanked the Obama administration and Secretary Clinton for helping Chen to leave China and come to the United States.

Chen has declined a few major human rights events since he came to the United States, including a congressional hearing last week. Some reports said he skipped the hearing after agreeing to attend. But Chen told VOA that he had never accepted the invitation.

This is Chen’s first time to visit Congress, and also his first time to meet with Congressman Boehner. Congresswoman Pelosi visited Chen in New York City in June.