China says Dissident
Chen Guangcheng Can Apply to Study Abroad
May 4, 2012
Chinese officials say blind legal
activist Chen Guangcheng is free to apply to go overseas if he wants to.
The still developing case of the dissident, who left the U.S. Embassy
earlier this week, has overshadowed high-level annual talks between
American and Chinese officials.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin's comments Friday seemed to
indicate some softening of the Chinese government's position on Chen
Liu says if Chen wants to study abroad, he may apply according to
relevant procedures and through the same channels as any other Chinese
In answer to a question about whether China has received the apology it
had demanded from the United States, Liu said Beijing notes that
Washington takes its concerns and demands seriously.
Chen is currently being treated at a Beijing hospital for a foot injury.
Last month, he made a daring escape from heavily-guarded house arrest in
Shandong province and then last week, he stunned the world by turning up
at the U.S. Embassy.
He left the American mission on Wednesday, one day before high-level
U.S.-China talks, and was escorted to a local hospital. He initially
wanted to remain in China, but he later told supporters and foreign
reporters that he has changed his mind, and now wants to go overseas.
Chen underscored his intention to go abroad to rest, in telephone
testimony to a U.S. Congressional hearing in Washington Thursday.
Chinese artist activist Ai Weiwei, who disappeared into detention
several months last year, says he believes the situation for Chen is
precarious if he stays in the country.
He says all parties involved, both the U.S. and Chinese governments, are
in an awkward situation, which he says causes a severely unsafe
situation for Chen and his family.
Ai says he believes Chen may have wanted to stay in China, but has
become terrified after talking to friends and family.
points to Chen's most recent comments, I want to leave this place, not
leave China but just go abroad and be cured for some time. The artist
says he believes Chen is not asking for political asylum, but wants to
go abroad for awhile, which he adds should be rational and legal for any
free Chinese citizen.
Ai admiringly calls Chen a mouse, and points out that this ordinary
person has suffered so much and carried what he describes as a big
burden for the cause of human rights in China.
Chen is a 40-year-old self-taught legal activist. He helped expose
forced abortions and sterilizations by Chinese family planning
authorities and served four years in jail.
Since he was freed in September 2010, plainclothes thugs have confined
him and his family to his home in rural Shandong, and beaten him and his