Visa denied


In 2007 Chinese human rights activists Chen Guangcheng (in portrait, while jailed) was the recipient of the Ramon Magsaysay award for outstanding public service.


Romeo Gacad

An American congressman has become the latest high-profile person denied a visit to China's most famous blind lawyer.

The Associated Press reports that Republican Congressman Chris Smith of New Jersey, who heads the U.S. Congressional Executive Commission on China, says he was denied a visa to China to visit the self-taught blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng. Chen, who served a lengthy prison sentence after exposing forced abortions in his hometown of Linyi, is now under extra-legal house arrest in his village. Dozens of journalists, activists and politicians who have tried to visit Chen since he and his wife filmed their home imprisonment a year ago have met with violence and been chased away from the village.

Visiting Chen has become known, for some, as "adventure tourism." The US congressional commission recently held a hearing on Chen's detention and issued a statement calling for his release.

"We are gravely concerned about Chen’s status and urge Chinese officials to not only provide the proof that neither he nor his family have been harmed but also set them free. The continued lack of information about their well-being must end,” Smith said.