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« Why Do You Ask, Elizabeth Warren? | Main | Cinema Catfights »
April 28, 2012

Chinese Activist Escapes, Seeks Asylum at US Embassy in Beijing

Boy, you know Obama would love to throw this one back. Recall, this is the president who made the Dalai Lama use the White House back door. The one by the trash bins.

Chen Guangcheng's is a self-taught lawyer and has been an advocate for the handicapped and families faced with forced abortion. The State Department and the White House are not commenting. But a former State Department official had something to say:

“Chen Guangcheng is a very strong candidate for asylum,” said Susan L. Shirk, a former State Department official who is now a professor at the University of California, San Diego. “A blind lawyer who is being persecuted for exposing forced abortions? I don’t think there’s any question about it.”

But look at how the White House handled the Wang Lijun case last February. From the Times:

In February, the Obama administration was thrust into an internal Chinese political dispute when Wang Lijun, the former top police official from the region of Chongqing, sought refuge in the American Consulate in Chengdu. Mr. Wang revealed details about the killing of a British businessman, setting off a cascade of events that led to the downfall of Bo Xilai, who was the party chief in Chongqing and a member of China’s Politburo. American diplomats said they had determined that Mr. Wang’s case did not involve national security, and he was turned over to Chinese officials, prompting criticism from some in Washington about their handling of the case. Both sides insist Mr. Wang left of his own accord.

(Emphasis added.) Sure, he wanted to go back to the Chinese. That's just the way dissidents roll, isn't it? After all, both sides agreed. But wasn't there a third side to this? I wonder what Wang might have said in an interview.

We'll never know, will we?

According to the Wikipedia entry linked above, the consulate building was encircled by police while Wang was there. "The Department of State refused to comment on speculations Wang sought to defect to the United States." After his departure, "Wang was immediately seized by security agents." He was flown to Beijing, "possibly in the company of Qiu Jin, vice minister of the Ministry of State Security."

In the extant case, according to the Times, rights advocates are saying Chen is not seeking to leave China:

But, as in the exploding scandal surrounding Bo Xilai, the Obama administration has sought to keep itself out of China’s internal politics.

Rights advocates said Mr. Chen was not seeking to leave China, but would try to negotiate his freedom with the Chinese authorities.

“He is reluctant to go overseas and wants only to live like a normal Chinese citizen,” said Mr. Fu.

(Emphasis added.) But if he does seek to go overseas, I'm sure President Gutsy Call will be right there to help.

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posted by rdbrewer at 02:56 PM

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