Chen Guangcheng says authorities threatened to kill his wife if he didn't stay in China


Chinese paramilitary guards march from the US embassy in Beijing on April 30, 2012. Chinese rights activist Chen Guangcheng is in the US embassy in Beijing but is not seeking asylum, fellow dissident Hu Jia said raising the spectre of a drawn-out China-US diplomatic standoff.



Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng now says that he only left the American Embassy because he was being threatened, the Associated Press reported today.

Chen also told CNN today he felt "let down" by the US and now wants to leave China, reportedly because he fears for his life, according to Reuters.

Speaking from his hospital room in Beijing, Chen told CNN that his family is in "danger," adding, "If you can talk to Hillary, I hope she can help my whole family leave China."

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived in Bejing today for previously scheduled trade talks that have been overshadowed by the dramatic Chen affair, which began with the famed dissident's escape from house arrest late last month. 

Chen earlier told AP that Chinese authorities said they would beat his wife to death if he did not leave the US Embassy in China. US officials relayed the threat to Chen, the AP reported

But Chen then told CNN that he felt pressured to leave embassy and was "very disappointed" in the US government, feeling "a little" deceived by officials. 

"The Embassy kept lobbying me to leave and promised to be with me at the hospital," he said, according to CNN. "But this afternoon, soon after we got here, they were all gone."

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The drama is likely to complicate US-China relations. The famous Chinese dissident sought refuge for six days at the US Embassy. China had accused the US of meddling and wanted an apology, Reuters reported

American officials had also said that they received assurances from China’s government that Chen would be treated humanely upon his return, but that claim was quickly doubted by Chinese activists, the Washington Post reported.

Chen's interviews today cast further doubt on any happy end to the whole affair. 

“I’m somewhat surprised by the US government’s willingness to accept the Chinese government’s assurances or even to get Hillary Clinton to work for Chen’s safety in the long term,” Nicholas Bequelin, senior Asia researcher for Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong told the Washington Post. “It seems they’ve taken a huge risk with this.”