Photo: Flickr: PAS China
Chen Guangcheng made headlines this week when he escaped from his extralegal home imprisonment in Shandong Province, China. The blind human rights activist made it to the US embassy in Beijing, but is now back in the hands of Chinese authorities. According to US embassy and Chinese government sources, the two side reached an agreement under which Chen and his family will be safe and the self-taught lawyer can attend university. However, there have been claims that Chen’s departure from the US embassy was prompted by threats against his family and many are concerned about his future. Also, the US government is now accountable for a promise of protection it cannot necessarily enforce.
In the midst of the Bo Xilai scandal and the US-China Strategic Economic Dialogue, it remains possible that China will allow Chen to resume a more normal life and keep him safe in order to quickly move past this embarrassing episode. The quick resolution of this issue is surprising and could point to a more serious attitude towards reform. Or it could be just another false start, a move motivated by Beijing’s desire to get him back in their hands and out of the public eye.
Watch the video to see how Chen escaped and what the political ramifications are:
Produced by Daniel Goodman
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