The daring escape of blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is looking set to be a major headache in US-China relations.
Over the weekend activists confirmed that, as suspected, Chen was currently in hiding under US protection somewhere in China. Officially, both the US and China are refusing to comment at present, apparently unsure how to proceed without creating a major diplomatic incident.
That the incident comes before Hilary Clinton heads to the country for a May 3-4 Strategic and Economic Dialogue is a case of very bad timing.
Worse still, both the US and China are entering proceedings for elections and leadership changes, and the huge Bo Xilai scandal started with a Chongqing police officials appeal for US amnesty, testing the US-China bond already.
The situation appears to be entering a standoff stage, with the US not ready to anger a key ally, and China not wanting to admit that its huge security apparatus was being used to persecuted a blind lawyer with young children — and perhaps worse still, set a precedent for those who want US protection in the country.
Bob Fu, leader of US-based advocacy group ChinaAid, has been the key source of information Chen’s case. Fu told Reuters on Sunday that an official response is expected in the next day or so.
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