POSTED: 10:36 p.m. HST, May 01, 2012
BEIJING >> A blind Chinese legal activist who was at the center of a diplomatic tussle between Washington and Beijing left the U.S. Embassy Wednesday to receive medical care in Beijing and be reunited with this family.
The resolution of the fate of Chen Guangcheng came shortly after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Beijing for two days of annual strategic talks that threatened to be overshadowed by the self-taught lawyer’s fate.
“Chen Guangcheng has arrived at a medical facility in Beijing where he will receive medical treatment and be reunited with his family,” said a senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. The official did not give additional details on Chen’s whereabouts or condition.
The Chinese government’s news service, Xinhua, reported that Chen left the U.S. Embassy “of his own volition” after staying there for six days.
Xinhua, in the brief English-language report, said that the Chinese Foreign Ministry has also demanded the U.S. “apologize for a Chinese citizen’s entering” the embassy.
The statements were the first official comments by either government on Chen’s case since his supporters said last Friday that he had escaped 20 months of house arrest and gone into U.S. government protection.
Chen ran afoul of local government officials for exposing forced abortions and other abuses, and his dogged pursuit of justice and mistreatment by authorities brought him attention from the U.S. and foreign governments and earned him supporters among many ordinary Chinese.
His flight into U.S. hands had given Washington and Beijing a delicate human rights crisis at a time when they are trying to shore up shaky relations to deal with the unsteady global economy and trouble-spots from Iran and Syria to North Korea.