Chinese Dissident Hiding In U.S. Embassy
A well known Chinese dissident escaped house arrest over the weekend and made his way to Beijing, where he is now being given sanctuary at the U.S. Embassy:
Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is under U.S. protection after an bold escape from 19 months under house arrest, sources told NBC News on Monday, a revelation that looked sure to complicate Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s upcoming trip to Beijing.
“My sources tell me that Chen is, indeed, under U.S. protection in Beijing. Now we don’t know whether that means he’s actually within the walls of the American Embassy compound, or in a diplomatic safe house, but he’s definitely in U.S. hands there,” NBC News Chief Foreign Affairs Correspondent Andrea Mitchell said on the TODAY Show Monday.
The United States has not given any public confirmation of reports that Chen, who reportedly slipped away from under the noses of guards and bristling surveillance equipment around his village home in Shandong province on April 22, fled the U.S. embassy.
Bob Fu, whose religious and political rights advocacy group ChinaAid who has been the chief source of information about Chen, said he had confirmed “intensive talks” between the United States and China began right after the activist took shelter in the embassy.
“I was told the Chinese top leaders have been deliberating a decision to be made very soon,” Fu said on Sunday by telephone from Texas. A “Chinese official response (is) expected in the next day or so,” he added.
All of this happens as both Treasury Secretary Geithner and Secretary of State Clinton are getting read to head to China for high level talks with their counterparts and other high level Chinese officials. In addition to the other issues that will be on the agenda — from the dollar and trade to Iran and Syria — one can imagine that this issue is going to received a lot of attention.