Chinese Activist: I'm Very 'Disappointed in the United States'

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Common Dreams

Chinese Activist: I'm Very 'Disappointed in the United States'

Chen Guangcheng says he feels lied to by the US government and fears for his family's safety

by
Common Dreams staff

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell accompanies Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng out of the U.S. embassy. (Reuters)

Insinuating that officials at the US Embassy in Beijing misled him, Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng told CNN in an interview that he was 'very disappointed' in the United States following six days under their protection before leaving the embassy on Tuesday. Chen sought refuge in the embassy after escaping from house arrest where he and his family have been under tight restrictions by the Chinese government. 

When asked if he felt lied to by the United States, Chen responded: "I feel a little like that." And when asked what he learned from the ordeal, he said, "I feel everyone focuses too much on their self-interest at the expense of their credibility."

Chinese government assurances to the US government about Chen Guangcheng may be insufficient to protect him and his family from a resumption of abuses and persecution they have suffered for extended periods at the hands of the authorities, Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Wednesday.

"It's not entirely clear what the Chinese may or may not have promised (or threatened) to the Americans and to Chen," writes Dashiell Barrett at The Atlantic this morning. "Did the U.S. embassy simply want to wash their hands of him, or did they honestly believe he was going to be okay if he left? Either way, the incident is looking like a massive diplomatic failure for the United States. Chen, meanwhile, is keeping his hopes for freedom alive by appealing to the American sense of justice ... and shame. By calling on the United States and specifically Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "protect human rights," he's forcing them to put up or shut up in a very tangible way."

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CNN Transcript: Interview with Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng: 'I'm very disappointed at the U.S. government'

Q: Why did you change your mind about staying in China?

A: I think it's time for me to make such a choice.

Q: Why?

A: For safety.

Q: Fear for your life or your family's?

A: Both.

Chinese activist tells CNN: 'We are in danger'

Q: What would happen if you stay in China?

A: Anything could happen.

Q: U.S. officials said you looked optimistic when you walked out of the embassy, what happened?

A: At the time I didn't have a lot of information. I wasn't allowed to call my friends from inside the embassy. I couldn't keep up with news so I didn't know a lot of things that were happening.

Q: What prompted your change of heart?

Q: What would you say to U.S. President Obama?
A: I would like to say to (President Obama): Please do everything you can to get our whole family out.
Q: Is this your most urgent wish?
A: That's right.

A: The embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to have people stay with me in the hospital. But this afternoon as soon as I checked into the hospital room, I noticed they were all gone.

Q: Has the U.S. disappointed you?

A: I'm very disappointed at the U.S. government.

Q: Why?

A: I don't think (U.S. officials) protected human rights in this case.

Q: What would you say to U.S. President Obama?

A: I would like to say to (President Obama): Please do everything you can to get our whole family out.

Q: Is this your most urgent wish?

A: That's right.

Q: What has your wife told you after you escaped?

A: (My wife) was tied to a chair by police for two days. Then they carried sticks to our home, threatening to beat her to death. Now they have moved into the house -- eating at our table and using our stuff. Our home is teeming with security -- on the roof and in the yard. They have installed seven surveillance cameras inside the house and built electric fences around the yard.

Q: What did officials tell her if you didn't leave the embassy?

A: They said they would send her back (to Shandong) and people there would beat her.

Q: If you stay in China, is there no future?

A: I tend to think so.

Q: You learned most information in the hospital after you left the embassy?

A: Yes, most of it.

Q: Are your wife and kids with you?

A: Yes. I just switched my cell phone back on. For a while, I couldn't make or receive calls. Now I can receive calls but still can't dial out. I feel my rights are already being violated.

Q: Is it true no one from the embassy picked up your calls?

A: Yes. I called two embassy people numerous times.

Q: What do you want to say to the U.S. government?

A: I want them to protect human rights through concrete actions. We are in danger. If you can talk to Hillary (Clinton), I hope she can help my whole family leave China.

Q: As soon as possible?

A: Yes, as soon as possible.

Q: The whole world is watching you -- how do you feel about this?

A: I feel very grateful. I feel they are sincere in their concern, not just for show.

Q: Do you feel you were lied to by the embassy?

A: I feel a little like that.

Q: What has this ordeal taught you?

A: I feel everyone focuses too much on their self-interest at the expense of their credibility.

Q: You're both still up at 3 a.m. -- feeling anxious?

A: Yes, we feel a lot of anxiety.... I told the embassy I would like to talk to Rep. Smith (Congressman Chris Smith) but they somehow never managed to arrange it. I feel a little puzzled.

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The Atlantic: Chen Guangcheng Is Making the United States Look Pretty Bad

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng talked to the media a lot yesterday and his version of events is making it look like American officials abandoned him to avoid upsetting the Chinese government. Chen believes he was misled about what would happen to him and his family if he left the U.S. embassy and stayed in China, but it's becoming clear from his comments to American news outlets that he also feels it was not the Chinese, but U.S. diplomats who wronged him. 

American officials have claimed all along that Chen left the U.S. embassy of his own volition after six days hiding out after escaping his house arrest. They insist he never asked for asylum and that it was only after his release that he changed his mind about seeking to leave the country. [...]

Chen, meanwhile, is keeping his hopes for freedom alive by appealing to the American sense of justice ... and shame. By calling on the United States and specifically Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to "protect human rights," he's forcing them to put up or shut up in a very tangible way. Human rights protection is a goal they claim to support every time they're dealing with the Chinese and now is their chance to prove they mean it. If they don't find a way to get Chen and his family out of the country and keep them safe — a task made much more difficult now that he's no longer in their hands — then how can they be trusted to help anyone?

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