Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist who sought refuge in the US embassy in Beijing, will be remaining in China after authorities have said that he would be safe. Therefore, despite China “demanding” that the US apologise for taking him into the embassy in “an irregular manner”, it would appear that a potential diplomatic incident has been averted.
Nevertheless, with there already having been threats to beat his wife to death we can understand friends and human rights activists questioning the value of Beijing’s assurances of safety, which would at least offer some indication that Hillary Clinton attaching any credibility to China offering him understandings “he could pursue higher education in a safe environment”, as smacking of naivety.
Still, it would appear that Hillary is not the only one who is being naive and in the article in today’s Guardian, which has just been quoted, we can read that Chen made a phone call and not only thanked Clinton for her support, but also told her, “I want to kiss you”. That, anyway, is the American version of the story.
However, whatever the truth in that story, we might empathise with the forebodings expressed by Wang Songlian, from the Chinese Human Rights Defenders network, who says that: “If he’s going to stay in China, reassurances are not very reassuring because the Chinese government has a record of not honouring its words regarding human rights.”
Nonetheless, Chen’s appeal to Wen Jinbao, which has been attached to this post, might have some chance of success for it might just be that the local officials in Ling Yi who are terrorising Chen, and his family and friends, have now become an embarrassment for Beijing and when that happens heaven is no longer quite as hight, and the emperor no longer so far away.