Romney should have a commercial out about this by now!
If it were a GOP opponent he would.
HONG KONG — The news broke simultaneously from both the Chinese and the Americans on Wednesday afternoon,
with U.S. officials speaking to reporters on background just as Xinhua, the official Chinese news agency, was issuing its own brief bulletin: Chen Guangcheng had left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing of his own accord and was getting medical treatment at a hospital in the city.
Mr. Chen, 40, a blind human rights lawyer, fled house arrest in eastern China last week, making a daring late-night escape by eluding dozens of guards and finding his way to a getaway car driven by a female accomplice. He eventually sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy.
It was not immediately clear what the terms of Mr. Chen’s departure from the embassy would be. But his wife told the BBC Wednesday afternoon that she and their two children were well. Whether American officials and diplomats had already worked out a comprehensive agreement with their Chinese counterparts also was not certain.
But the demand for an apology by the Chinese side was immediate, coming just 9 minutes after Xinhua’s initial bulletin on its English-language site.
Here is the full text of the second report from Xinhua, which moved at 3:46 p.m.:
BEIJING, May 2 (Xinhua) — China demands the U.S. to apologize for a Chinese citizen’s entering the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry said here Wednesday.
It is informed that Chen Guangcheng, a native from Yinan County of eastern China’s Shandong Province, entered the U.S. Embassy in Beijing in late April and left of his own volition after a six-day stay in the embassy, said Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin.
“The Americans did tread on Chinese sovereignty by sneaking a Chinese national — even one who was being persecuted — into their embassy,” the China scholar David Zweig, a professor at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, said in an e-mail message.
“But it would be political suicide for President Obama to issue an apology; the Republicans would eat him alive!”
“China demands the U.S to apologize” for sheltering CGC– who is going to apologize 2 Chen Guangcheng for beating and family??
“Today’s events are very surprising to me, and my initial thoughts were that the negotiations did not go well and that the demand for an apology was a result of the impasse,” said Marc Lanteigne of the New Zealand Contemporary China Research Center at Victoria University of Wellington.
“It would be very difficult for China to withdraw from an apology request given said request’s now-public profile, and a refusal from the United States would cause Beijing to lose face,” Mr. Lanteigne said in an e-mail.
“That said, there could be some kind of quiet arrangement being put into place, but the abrupt demand for an apology is unusual and may further complicate the bilateral economic talks later this week, which were already looking difficult.”
The Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin later expanded on Beijing’s apology demand, as quoted by Xinhua: “It should be pointed out that Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese citizen, was taken by the U.S. side to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing via abnormal means, and the Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with the move.”
It was not immediately clear what the spokesman meant by “abnormal means.”
“What the U.S. side has done has interfered in the domestic affairs of China,” Mr. Liu said, “and the Chinese side will never accept it.
“The U.S. Embassy in Beijing has the obligation to observe relevant international laws and Chinese laws, and it should not do anything irrelevant to its function.”
Mr. Chen, blinded in infancy by an untreated fever, has campaigned for years against the harsh enforcement of the state’s one-child policy in eastern China, alleging that local officials have forced thousands of people to have abortions or undergo sterilization procedures.
A 15-minute video that he recorded about the harsh treatment of him and his family while under house arrest is now available here with English subtitles. In the video, Mr. Chen appeals directly to Prime Minister Wen Jiabao for justice.
So, the question of the moment is pretty straightforward: Should the United States apologize? Let us know with a comment. And as always, speak freely.
- China Demands Apology from U.S. (rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Chinese Legal Activist Leaves U.S. Embassy as China Gov’t Demands Apology (foxnewsinsider.com)
- Cheng Guangcheng, China activist, to be reunited with family in Beijing (cbsnews.com)