Thursday, May 3, 2012

Activist: I want to leave China 'on Clinton's plane'
Activist: I want to leave China 'on Clinton's plane'
Frantic efforts to resolve the wrangle over blind dissident Chen Guangcheng continue after he appealed for asylum following what was described as a "change of heart". (more)Diplomatic Plot Thickens in Chen Affair
Council on Foreign Relations
Senior U.S. officials acknowledged on Thursday that Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident and central actor in an escalating U.S.-China diplomatic crisis (NYT), has changed his mind, and would now like to leave China. Mr. Chen dramatically escaped house arrest in Western China roughly two weeks ago, and sought refuge at the U. S. Embassy in Beijing for six days. He was subsequently released on his own accord to a local hospital for medical treatment. Chen's desire to leave China is a stark reversal from reports that he, who is now wary of his government hosts, had embraced a plan to remain in his native country. The Chen affair comes at an inopportune time for the United States, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner kick off two days of high-level strategic and economic meetings.
In this media conference call, CFR fellow Jerome Cohen, an expert on law and business in China, says that Chen wants to stay in China, but only under certain open conditions, "Here's a man who was willing to sacrifice himself and his relationship with his family for the cause, rule of law in China. He wants to stay in China. The problem is he doesn't want to stay in China under lock and key."
"I've known Chen Guangcheng for more than a decade--he's been through intimidation, beatings, jail, and extralegal house arrest—but through it all I never sensed he was scared. Now he's scared," writes Melinda Liu for the Daily Beast. In an exclusive interview with Chen, Liu quotes him as wanting to leave China as soon as possible, "My fervent hope is that it would be possible for me and my family to leave for the U.S. on Hillary Clinton's plane."
In this interview, CFR's Adam Segal discusses the U.S-China relationship in broader diplomatic terms. "What we can expect is that the relationship is very cyclical--it has its good points and its rough periods, because the two sides are constantly bumping up against each other," he says. "We're entering a more bumpy period. But overall, given the widespread economic interdependence between the two sides and the increasing people-to-people contact, I suspect the damage will not be dramatic to the relationship, but we will continue to bump along."