Chen Guangcheng, blind Chinese activist, to speak in New York


Blind activist Chen Guangcheng with his wife and son outside the home in northeast China's Shandong province, March 28, 2005.



Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist who fled to the United States last month, is set to give a speech at the Council for Foreign Relations in Manhattan on Thursday, the Associated Press reported

Guangcheng's mentor, New York University law professor Jerome Cohen, will also participate in the event, according to the AP. The professor has been in touch with Chen since he first came to the United States on a State Department program in 2003.

Last month, the activist — known for fighting for the disabled and for farmers' rights and campaigning against forced abortions in his rural community — escaped from house arrest, making headlines around the world and sparking a political stand-off between China and the US. 

He had served 19 months under house arrest in the rural Chinese town of Dongshigu before he climbed a wall under the cover of darkness and escaped to the US Embassy in Beijing, according to the Los Angeles Times.

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Terse negotiations between the two countries ended with the decision to fly Guangcheng to New York with his wife and two children, the AP reported, where he and his family have stayed in faculty housing since their arrival. 

"I am very gratified to see that the Chinese government has been dealing with situation with restraint and calm," Chen said to Reuters upon his arrival at New York University. "I hope the government will be more liberal and push for deeper reform to keep the justice and equality of society and earn the respect and trust of its people."

China's foreign ministry allowed Chen to leave the country after NYU gave him a fellowship to study law at the institution, according to Policymic.com

The LA Times reported that though Guangcheng is now stateside, Dongshigu is still on high-security lockdown, "all of which adds a touch of the 'closing the barn door after the horse has bolted' absurdity to the level of security here," wrote the Times' Barbara Demick. 

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