In his first in-depth TV interview since his dramatic escape from house arrest, Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng told CNN about his departure from China and his continuing concern for family and friends he left behind.
Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese human rights activist who ignited a diplomatic frenzy when he escaped house arrest last month, has received passport applications for himself and his family, he said Wednesday.
They are two men, separated by a gulf of power and privilege. One was born of the Chinese Communist Party, the son of a revolutionary hero and seemingly destined to shape China's destiny; the other has lived in the shadow of the state, poor, persecuted and blind.
The Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng's daring and extraordinary escape to the U.S. embassy in Beijing has captivated the world. At first, it appeared that U.S. diplomats and the Chinese government brokered a deal that satisfied Chen and everyone involved. But now Chen says he wants to leave China, and that he feels unsafe.
The United States took "extraordinary" measures to bring Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng to its embassy and plans to help him "every step of the way," the U.S. ambassador to China told CNN on Thursday.
On Wednesday night, Chen Guangcheng's cell phone stopped working. The only means that the blind Chinese human rights lawyer, his wife, Yuan Weijing, and their two children had of connecting with those outside Beijing Chaoyang Hospital was cut off.
As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepared to depart Monday night for China, President Barack Obama was tight-lipped about the whereabouts of escaped Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng and his potential impact on the discussions to be held this week in Beijing.
Washington and Beijing may be facing the most tense and delicate moment in their bilateral relationship since the 1989 Tiananmen crackdown. The reported escape from house arrest of dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng and his apparent flight to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, while not yet officially confirmed, would greatly complicate the Obama administration's efforts to keep relations on an even keel in a year already fraught with bilateral irritants.
A prominent Chinese human rights activist has called for an investigation into what he describes as corrupt and cruel officials who he says "violently assaulted" him and his family before he escaped from house arrest and fled to Beijing.