IAN HEDGES, News Editor
Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist, escaped from house arrest last weekend.
While guards were watching his house, he pretended to be sick for several weeks. After guards were loosening security measures, Guangcheng scaled a high wall. He then traveled 400 miles to Beijing with help from activists in the area.
Guangcheng is best known in China for protesting China’s one child policy. In 2006, Chen collected testimony from women who suffered population-control abuses from government officials. He planned on using the testimonies as part of a class-action lawsuit against the Communist Party, but the lawsuit failed to proceed and criminal charges were filed against him by local officials in Shangdong. After serving time in prison, his rural home was turned into an alternative prison with surveillance cameras and jamming devices that make it unable for him to communicate with people outside his home.
However, his escape became an international matter when news spread that Guangcheng was being protected by U.S. government officials. It is unclear if he is hiding in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing or if he is staying at a diplomat’s residence.
Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell flew to China under the radar to negotiate with Chinese officials. Many people believe that Campbell’s visit is to prepare Chinese officials to not bring up the issue when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton goes to China on Monday. A senior White House official said that President Obama wants to strike an “appropriate balance.” The official added that “the president tries to balance our commitment to human rights while continuing to carry out our relationships with key countries overseas.
Mitt Romney released a statement saying that the U.S. should “take every measure to protect Mr. Guangcheng.” Romney added, “Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the facts of the Chinese government’s denial of political liberties, its one-child policy and other violation of human rights.”
Sources: Washington Post, New York Times