VIDEO: U.S. in difficult position with Chen Guangcheng in China
Chen Guangcheng seems like he wants to leave China now, but it's unclear if he'll be able to. Chen's change-of-heart comes after Chinese officials seem to be backing away from an agreement reached by foreign ministry officials and representatives of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Chen Guangcheng, the dissident Chinese activist who sought shelter in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing last week now regrets his decision to leave U.S. protection, but stay in China.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman confirmed this morning that Chen wanted to leave China with his family. According to media reports, the change-of-heart comes after the Chinese security service have moved to disregard some provisions of the carefully negotiated agreement between U.S. Embassy officials and China's Foreign Ministry.
In a report from The Washington Post, academics and other experts on China said this episode is just another indication of the relative weakness of China's foreign ministry, juxtaposed against the power of China's Ministry of State Secuity.
“This is a party matter, not a government matter," Nicholas Bequelin, senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch, said to the Post. "Only the highest levels of the party can offer guarantees to make an exception for Chen Guangcheng to what is a policy of systematic repression of dissidents in China.”
But the individuals with whom the U.S. negotiated were bureaucrats — not high-ranking party officials.
Bequelin said diplomats have no authority when it comes to dissidents and he said he was shocked and dismayed that U.S. officials would take their word on how Chen would be treated.
For his part, Chen remained upbeat about the support he got from the United States. In an interview with CNN Friday morning in China, Thursday in the United States, Chen said he left the embassy of his own free will. He also remained optimistic about his ultimate future.
"I believe they will help me," he said to CNN.
According to The New York Times, U.S. officials have been barred from visiting with Chen at the hospital in Beijing where he is being treated. They have, however, been able to communicate by phone.
U.S. officials were still working to find a resolution to the situation that would satisfy Chen and his supporters while not damaging the improving relationship between the United States and China.
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