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Things are not going well for foreign policy wonk Mitt Romney. Head south.

(Updated at bottom of diary)

Today, Chen Guangchen checked out of the US Embassy and into the VIP Clinic of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, leaving, as Xinhua reports, "of his own volition", where he reunited with his two children and wife Yuan Weijing after they traveled by high speed rail, escorted by Central Government Officials.

Oh no! That crazy dissident Chen kept his word on his desire to remain in China and continue work on fighting corruption and promoting reform in local government, prodding Uncle Wen to speed things up and help him seek justice.

It could not be immediately confirmed if Presumed Republican Candidate and Expert on Everything  Newt Gingrich will send his personal envoy of Asian Affairs, Chuck Norris, to apologize for the Obama Administration's mishandling of Mr Chen's confinement.

Coda: Chen has been promised to move to a safe house and then attend the university of his choice to continue his work. Dude, you rock! Really.

Updated 2012-05-03 08:25 China Central Time:

As Dartagnan and singlemom2012 note, Chen has now stated the reason he left the US Embassy is he feared for the safety of is family as they would have been sent home had he remained. Furthermore, this morning Chen has released a statement appealing to Mr. Obama to help him leave China with his family, complicating matters.

As the BBC Reports:

Earlier Mr Chen's lawyer said the activist was "happy" after receiving "clear assurances" from Beijing.

But Associated Press quoted Mr Chen, 40, as saying he had been told by US officials of the threat from the Chinese authorities and "got the feeling that the US government and the embassy was quite supportive of me leaving as well".

US officials had accompanied Mr Chen to a Beijing hospital, where he was reunited with his wife and two children.

US state department spokesperson Victoria Nuland later said: "At no time did any US officials speak to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us."

But she added: "Chinese officials had indicated to us that his family would be returned to Shandong, and they would lose their opportunity to negotiate for reunification."

CNN said it had spoken to Mr Chen and he said he felt let down by the US and wanted to leave China with his family as soon as possible.

"I would like to say to President Obama - please do everything you can to get our family out," CNN quoted him as saying.

Unfortunately, that may now be not so simple. So what do you think? How should this be handled, and what do you think is a reasonable expectation for US involvement in this case?

I'm running late for work, will check back tonight. Thanks for your comments.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for Chen Guangchen (119+ / 0-)

    A truly brave individual, patriot and gentleman.

    He sets the bar high for the rest of us.

    What about my Daughter's future?

    by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 03:35:38 AM PDT

    •  Exactly (41+ / 0-)

      This was a complex and dangerous situation that called for diplomacy, not political grandstanding.

      The Obama Administration handled it excellently and the outcome is a lot better than it might had been if escalated with chest beating political rhetoric.

      This is far from done and the next difficult thing to handle will be a response (or not) to the Chinese demand for an apology (a face saver to trade for Chen's freedom). As much as I have disagreed with Clinton's approach to some China related issues, I'm quite confident she is smart enough and tough enough to handle that.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:06:41 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  yes she will. (44+ / 0-)

        I've been majorly impressed by SOS Clinton since the very opening days of the administration.  She's an example of what it means to have smart grownups in charge.  I have no doubt that she will convey an appropriate statement to the government of China, and that this situation will resolve well for all involved.  

        Know what's really really wonderful?  Knowing that when the clock radio wakes me up each day with the news on the hour, I'm not going to be waking up to:

        a)  The ominous sound of a newsroom in emergency live coverage mode, per 9/11.

        b)  News of some enormous screw-up or embarrassment by senior government officials.

        c)  A new war or diplomatic catastrophe or intelligence breakdown.  

        d)  A huge corruption scandal or some scandalous goings-on at high levels.  

        Those are the things we don't get when we have smart grownups in charge.  What we do get is the sense of confidence that whatever comes up, the smart grownups who we elected will be doing their jobs competently.

        In contrast to the period from 2001 through January 2009, that is an enormous change for the better.

        It doesn't mean we agree with everything they do, and I have my own list of items I argue about ferociously.  But it means that life will go on without some abrupt overnight catastrophe where we wake up to find that the world we thought we were living in has turned inside-out.

        And that's priceless.  

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:26:30 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  the one quibble (15+ / 0-)

          The one quibble I have with your excellent comment is that Secretary Clinton is not a grownup, she's an adult.  The Bush administration crowed when they came into power, claiming that the grownups were in charge now.  

          And so they all wore suits and ties to work and worked 9-5, rather than casual dress and drifting in at 10:30 because you'd worked until 2.

          But while the Bushies were grown up, they never matured.  They lacked the moral development to realize that torture is wrong, and that war should be avoided if at all possible.  They whined and stomped their feet and took petty revenge for slights.

          A 'grownup' is what children think of older people.  Someone can be an adult regardless of age or experience, some other people never reach that stage.

          •  you say to-may-to, and I say to-mah-to.... (5+ / 0-)

            ... regional and subcultural dialects being somewhat diverse, I'm sure I could find something to quibble about language usage in your part of the universe.

            For instance in the South, all sweet carbonated beverages are referred to as Coke, which means that if you want an orange soda, you ask for an orange Coke, but if you do that in the Northeast you'll get a blend of both flavors.  

            In Maine, a "milkshake" is what's called "chocolate milk" everywhere else, but if you want ice cream in it, you ask for a frappe.  

            We can thank the South for "y'all," which is the best English-language way to express "second person plural," and more understandable than the New Jersey "youse" that can get confused with "use."  

            Sandwiches made on rolls are variously known as hoagies, subs, grinders, hero sandwiches, and so on, depending on locality or even from one deli to the next.

            And the one thing the military and the corporate world have most in common is a love of acronyms.  

            As for the generic noun for persons above the age of majority, I'll say "grownups," and not let the Bush Regime's use of that word deter me.  But thanks for your concern.

            "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

            by G2geek on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:02:16 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Oh, about my avatar ... (11+ / 0-)

          That picture is a cartoon of the fictional character Fán Ruì (樊瑞) from the classic Chinese novel Water Margin (水滸傳).

          Since first reading it as a schoolboy, Fán Ruì is kind of a hero of mine and you could call him the Chinese "Robin Hood", who lead a group of bandits that stole from the rich and gave to the poor, protected the weak and stood for justice for the people.

          Fán is sometimes referred to as the "King of Chaos" as he used magic against his adversary, changing the weather to dark clouds, strong winds and sandstorms to create chaos and disorientation to confuse them and gain tactical advantage.

          Ultimately, in the story, Fán refuses the granting of an official post by the Emperor, choosing to retire to the countryside to study Dao.

          Water Margin, is one of the "3 great classics"  of Chinese literature along with Journey to the West (sometimes know as "Monkey King") and Dream of the Red Chamber. Very much of the popular myth and characters in Chinese martial arts pop culture is drawn from the first two.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:01:11 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

        •  "smart grownups in charge" . I agree. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          I'd rather have a buntle afrota-me than a frottle a bunta-me.

          by David54 on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:33:07 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  Rumor has it that's what Republican candidates do (23+ / 0-)

        It's a pattern:

        Here is the secret in plain words. In the fall of 1968, Richard Nixon and some of his emissaries and underlings set out to sabotage the Paris peace negotiations on Vietnam. The means they chose were simple: they privately assured the South Vietnamese military rulers that an incoming Republican regime would offer them a better deal than would a Democratic one. In this way, they undercut both the talks themselves and the electoral strategy of Vice-President Hubert Humphrey. The tactic "worked," in that the South Vietnamese junta withdrew from the talks on the eve of the election, thereby destroying the "peace plank" on which the Democrats had contested it. In another way, it did not "work," because four years later the Nixon administration concluded the war on the same terms that had been on offer in Paris. The reason for the dead silence that still surrounds the question is that, in those intervening four years, some twenty thousand Americans and an uncalculated number of Vietnamese, Cambodians and Laotians lost their lives. Lost them, that is to say, even more pointlessly than had those slain up to that point. The impact of those four years on Indochinese society, and on American democracy, is beyond computation.
        And, a somewhat more controversial charge, by former Iranian President Abolhassan Bani-Sadr, that is widely suspected but to my knowledge unproven and remains controversial:
        "This book is the proof," he said in Persian through a translator. "It's like a lab report." He said that by the month before the American Presidential election in November 1980, many in Iran's ruling circles were openly discussing the fact that a deal had been made between the Reagan campaign team and some Iranian religious leaders in which the hostages' release would be delayed until after the election so as to prevent President Carter's re-election.

        In exchange, Iran was to receive arms from the Reagan Administration. Mr. Bani-Sadr does not have firsthand knowledge of the arrangement, he said, because the mullahs who consummated the deal were his political rivals and were simultaneously plotting to remove him from office.

        Reagan campaign officials have strenuously denied that any such deal ever occurred. The persistent but unproven allegations were revived with the publication last month of an Op-Ed page article in The New York Times by Gary Sick, who was a staff member of the National Security Council under President Carter and who was involved in the hostage situation.

        Even if the second allegation is false, were I in the Obama Administration I would definitely be watching for Republican meddling designed to undercut the public perception of the President's competence in international affairs; one of Romney's major shortcomings.
    •  Romney is from another planet (6+ / 0-)

      He has a habit of sticking his nose where it doesn't belong. The only thing Romneys knows about foreign countries is outsourcing jobs to these countries.Romney is a expert on Swiss banks and the Caymen Islands.

    •  Not only risk harming (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dartagnan, koNko

      our country's interests but perhaps the lives of Chen and his family.

    •  This is something that all Dems need to stress. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Dartagnan, koNko, sethtriggs, Jill

      When it comes to foreign policy, Romney is an amateur poser whose kibbitzing threatens the ability of the pros and grownups to do their jobs.

      One thing we really need to do this election cycle is promote the idea that Romney is simply in over his head.  He can never be trusted to handle a crisis.

      He's essentially the political equivalent of Ellis from Die Hard.

      Ceterum censeo Factionem Republicanam esse delendam.

      by journeyman on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:53:00 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  what did Rmoney say? (7+ / 0-)

    Republicans have the 1% vote locked up.

    by MartyM on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:17:58 AM PDT

  •  dear koNko, thanks for this information. (16+ / 0-)

    I think your diary would be better if you included a little back story, a couple of sentences, and maybe a link.

    This is the first I have heard of this issue.

    Thanks again, and keep up your good work.

    You must work-we all must work-for a world that is worthy of its children. - Pablo Casals. Please donate to TREE Climbers, the 501c(3) of Roxine and SwedishJewfish.

    by 2thanks on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:24:50 AM PDT

  •  Mitt will never get nuance any more than the (10+ / 0-)

    really base GOP base will.  They always see things in black and white, win or lose, no other possiblilty than they can see.  Bugs the hell out of me that those horrid people are so good at winning elections by appealing to all the worse aspects if humanity and so lousy at ruling.  Not believing in democracy they can only rule not govern.  Standard Operating procedure in any GOP administration is 1 loot the treasury and 2 go to war and 3 lie about 1 and 2.

    Never promote men who seek after a state-established religion; it is spiritual tyranny--the worst of despotism. It is turnpiking the way to heaven by human law, in order to establish ministerial gates to collect toll. John Leland

    by J Edward on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:27:07 AM PDT

  •  Ko, could this have anything to do with... (10+ / 0-)

    ... the anticipated change-over of senior leadership in China later this year?  As I understand, there have been some complex goings-on including at least one high Party official getting disciplined or kicked out of membership, and some indication of potential ideological changes.

    Any connections?

    BTW your userID graphic is way cool, anything you can tell us about it?

    "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

    by G2geek on Wed May 02, 2012 at 04:29:38 AM PDT

    •  Not directly, but perhaps indirectly (13+ / 0-)

      Actually, the Hu/Wen government has been reformist and incoming Xi Jinping is expected to continue down that road with greater emphasis on domestic policy and reform.

      The measure of that is incidents such as this case now happen in the open more often and you are reading about it. Which is to say, I suppose, that the opportunity presents itself for dissidents to appeal to the Chinese people (Chen has great popular support here, which plays into the ultimate response) and for the world to watch.

      Actually, social and political protest and demonstrations are a lot more common in China than may people outside realize - we take to the streets more than Americans (although the past year of activism in the US is really encouraging, if a measure of discontent that is not so good).

      The fact that China, this year, has a historic changing of the guard (not just executive branch but Politburo and many important provincial posts, a record number of non-party members running for local office (something not much reported in the Western media) does open some doors, so perhaps that figured in Mr. Chen's decision to take this chance.

      My personal expectation is security will remain tight this year until Xi is firmly in control (not as simple a process as many assume) and then he will put forth his own domestic agenda, which should be an extension of the priorities Papa Wen put forth at this year's CPC/CPCC - greatly focused on populist issues and democratic reforms.

      we can/should judge any government on what they do for people and ultimately, they have to be responsive to maintain legitimacy - in China or anywhere.

      Let's see what happens and not get too far ahead of the facts on the ground.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:26:09 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I'm with you on that. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        As far as judging stuff is concerned, I tend to go into "objective scientist mode" and just observe what happens for a while before coming to any tentative conclusions.  So I don't have any specific expectations about what's going to happen and what's going to change.  

        But absent some kind of truly wildly unforeseeable situation, it's reasonable to believe that incoming Chinese leadership will consist of "smart grownups" who can manage competently without crises, and who would probably value stability and incremental approaches to change.  

        I've heard of demonstrations in China; what we hear here creates the impression that they are spontaneous and grassroots-based, and that the outcomes are either that they are squelched in much the same way as occurs here, or that they quickly get the intended results in the form of various local officials being replaced and other persons being subject to disciplinary measures and penalties.  

        Long term, something I'm really looking forward to is mutual collaboration on space exploration.  IMHO the US, China, Russia, and India should get together and plan a joint mission to Mars, with additional participation by as many other nations as want to contribute to the project in whatever way.   That, and/or a permanent international base on the Moon.

        "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

        by G2geek on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:29:08 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Outcomes depend on case (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          wu ming, G2geek

          A majority of these demonstrations are definitely grassroots and very often quite spontaneous, which in some cases makes them less effective. Whether they are responded to or put down depends a lot on local officials (for example the case of Mr. Chen).

          But labor and many village based demonstrations are becoming better organized and publicized using the internet, and more effective, notably by the Central Government, but increasingly by Provincial Officials.

          In the past year or so labor demonstrations have become quite common and have gotten results, and there was really a break-through with the Wukan Incident where villagers occupied a township, ultimately getting a response from Guangdong Province leader Wang Yang who sacked the officials and ordered free elections, which were swept by demonstration organizers.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:05:27 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  the resolution of the wukan incident (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            koNko, G2geek

            when taken in light of the subsequent fall of bo xilai suggests that wang's star (and more importantly, his approach) is rising, which is a good thing IMO.

            •  Yes it is. (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              I think he may end up in the Politburo in next couple of years.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 10:13:45 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

            •  i recall seeing the name "Bo" in this... (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:

              ... so with your input there, I can find the information again and look for Wang.  This is very helpful about getting insight into what goes on, just as we get occasionally from folks in France and England about their local politics.  

              "Minus two votes for the Democrat" equals "plus one vote for the Republican." Arithmetic doesn't care about your feelings.

              by G2geek on Wed May 02, 2012 at 09:42:50 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  CNN is reporting that Chen is now complaining (0+ / 0-)

        about promises State Department officials made prior to his release?  It's my understanding that we helped him, and now he's turning on Clinton and Obama?  Is this a man that we can trust?

    •  Oh, about my avatar (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      FindingMyVoice, old wobbly

      That is a cartoon image of the fictional character Fan Rui (樊瑞) from the classic Ming Chinese novel Water Margin (水滸傳).

      Since childhood, Fan is my hero and kind of the Chinese Robin Hood, who led a team of bandits that stole from the rich to give to the poor, defended the weak and stood for justice for the people, using magical powers to change the weather to create chaos, using it as a tactic.

      If you have seen popular Chinese historical films, particularly some period set martial arts films, you have probably seen the character of Fan or ones based on him.

      Water Margin is considered one of the four greatest classic Chinese novels and a big influence on popular culture. Another of the four you may be familiar with is Journey to the West including the very popular character of the "Monkey King" Sun Wu-kong (孙悟空), another magical character.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:40:46 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Ha ha ... 2 for 1 special (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        wu ming, old wobbly

        Now you know more about Fan Rui than you ever expected because this VPN connection is so bloody slow I can't see my page refresh for, like, minutes, and double-posted.

        Well, I always say you can't get to the bus stop too early or read too many comments about Fan Rui.

        What about my Daughter's future?

        by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:27:46 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  WTF is all this about? What did I miss? (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisVoter, ivorybill, koNko, sethtriggs

    "If I could wave my magic wand, I'd make everything all right. I'm not one to believe in magic But I sometimes have a second-sight I'm not one with a sense of proportion When my heart still changes overnight "

    by Ex Real Republican on Wed May 02, 2012 at 06:01:17 AM PDT

    •  Well, briefly (6+ / 0-)

      an extremely courageous Chinese human rights activist sought refuge in the US embassy.  There's a billion people in China and we in the West rarely hear about some unbelievable activists who pop up from time to time in such a vast country.  Chen Guangchen is one of the bravest.  He's blind, but ironically managed to elude something like 50 "watchers" and escape house arrest.  He got to the US embassy.  

      This of course was a delicate situation.  It's hard to draw a parallel in the US, but let's just say the US can't easily get Chen out of China, but can't let the authorities hurt him either.  They negotiated a pretty good deal with the Chinese, involving Chen in the discussions, which gives him a lot more freedom than he had, and allows him to continue his reform work in China with a higher profile than before.  Chen has often said that he does not want to flee China.  We will see how the government respects the agreement, but in short, the US negotiated a very positive result for Chen and one which allowed the Chinese government to save face and not look like total asses to their entire population.  It was a good result.  It required quiet negotiation and not a lot of political grandstanding - in other words, a job for Sec State Clinton, and not any currently living Republican.

      The Republicans are furious because they wanted to confront China and use this very brave man's life not for an improvement in human rights in China, but as a cheap political weapon against Obama.  

      Mitt Romney has never done anything with his life remotely as brave or useful or important as Chen, and it is literally nauseating the way his campaign wanted to use this as yet another club to beat Obama.  But the Obama Administration once again proved that they are better at foreign policy than the GOP - quiet, confident, effective diplomacy that this country hasn't seen in many decades.  

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:03:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Romney or Newt? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ivorybill, koNko

    Why do you mention Newt above if this is about Romney?

    •  I'll let KoNko weigh in (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      koNko, sethtriggs, FindingMyVoice

      But briefly, I think she mentioned Newt because that fool was shooting off his mouth about getting aggressive with China, without having any clue what was at stake or how to manage the situation.  

      Newt believes he's an expert.  This sort of case is crack for Newt - he can jump around and demand that the US threaten all sorts of actions that neither he nor anyone else can ever carry out.  He can pretend he's some great general or strategist, and probably even quote Sun Tsu.  

      Mitt knows he's not and expert, so Mitt criticizes as loud as possible to cover up his own ignorance.  

      KoNko probably couldn't resist a swipe at Newt because he's such a phony grandstanding asshole.  But I don't want to speak for her/him so we'll see if s/he responds.

      “If the misery of the poor be caused not by the laws of nature, but by our institutions, great is our sin.” Charles Darwin

      by ivorybill on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:13:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Because ... (4+ / 0-)

      One should not miss an opportunity to needle Newt Gingrich, who boasted he would not quit.

      Or an opportunity to link to the Uncyclopedia Bio of his close advisor Chuck Norris.

      Don't you want to have fun?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:17:50 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  At least Romney was behind Chen (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, sethtriggs

    Romney should heed his own advice about politicization of foreign policy. But he did, at least, support Chen instead of decrying Obama for negotiating (some wingnuts would just call for us to bomb China.)

    That said, the deafening silence of the political religious right on Chen -- given that his initial activism was against forced abortion and sterilization -- is rather telling that they're not really concerned with human life so much as controlling people domestically. Because this is, after all, about making one's own reproductive choices, not having the government tell you what to do, and that's a conversation the GOP would rather not get into in detail since their hypocrisy would be manifest.

    Some people are intolerant, and I CAN'T STAND people like that. -- Tom Lehrer

    by TheCrank on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:11:18 AM PDT

  •  Ko, How much of this is local vs national? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, FindingMyVoice

    I notice that he went to Beijing and his problem has often been described in the US media (at least the part that tries to actually understand China) as being caused by clueless, unsophisticated provincial officials who are embarrassing the national government in Beijing with their heavy handed oppression of Mr. Chen.  

    Is it likely that he will be more or less left alone now that he's in Beijing?

    I'm very interested in the whole problem of central government not having control over the provinces, so I've been astounded by the story of the Chengdu murder mystery in which the latest revelation is that Bo Xilai was wiretapping President Hu Jintao!  

    I mean, WTF???

    I think a lot of Americans can't wrap their minds around the idea that the president of China in some circumstances has as much control over what happens in a place like Chengdu as President Obama has over Orange County, California or Stone Mountain, Georgia.

    Also, btw, everytime I read your screen name, I'm reminded of the fascinating origin of the name of the former president of the Philippines, Ms. Corazon Aquino, widow of Benino Aquino.  

    She was born into one of the richest families in the Philippines, the Cojuangco family.  Sounds like a nice indigenous Filipino name.

    In fact the family was trying to hide their Chinese roots and Cojuangco is a weird spelling of of their original name, "Ko Wong Ko."

    •  Oh, we're having fun these days (5+ / 0-)

      Never a dull moment.

      Generally, the Central Government tends to be more policy driven and progressive, and local government more prone to the type of abuses Chen has been protesting, because of direct access and control.

      And generally, Central Government attracts people with better education and higher level skills, while a fair number of local officials are incompetents or crooks. But to be fair, there are also some incredibly competent "barefoot" officials that do a great job.

      Most definitely in the case of Chen, he was protesting local abuses of office that would not be sanctioned (but might be covered-up) by Central Government, but you cannot totally absolve Central Government beyond a certain point because of the recent notoriety of his case. Well, at a certain point they let the lid off the pot so I suppose this now becomes a political lever those local officials may get pulled against them (and they have it coming). Just a in the USA, there is a lot of tension between Central and Local government in China, it's not as monolithic as many Westerners think.

      Chen has gotten a lot of popular support recently and that will get consideration by Central Government officials. I must believe Chen made a risk decision about how that could be leveraged, but this guy is really brave.

      You might note that Ai Weiwei is seen as kind of an opportunist by lots of Chinese, but Chen is really a popular hero now.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 07:50:27 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  What did Romney do to make this bad news for him? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, Odysseus

    That info sort of helps one to understand this diary.

    •  Tried to poke Obama in the eye & score points (4+ / 0-)

      Romney has been trying to portray Obama as weak and incompetent on Foreign Policy but that's ridiculous and this case shows why in high contrast.

      Chen was in the US Embassy for 6 days while negotiations proceeded without once the White House officially acknowledging it for the obvious reason of the sensitivity and need to maintain strict confidentiality.

      Check the video I posted up-thread of Romney on CBS news dispensing advice and then jumping into his current complaint about Obama using the OBL case as a campaign banner.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 08:22:14 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  Chen want Change in China (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    China is more represses  than Cuba ,and american are able too travel freely too China, we have Cuban terrorist in our  country that the United States government fought to keep in the US that is link too  the death of Cuban citizen ,while we unjustly hold the Cuban 5  in our  prison

  •  I hope to god it's all worked out. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    This could have been a huge problem.  But in reality, all China had to do was stop the extralegal detention.  Chen remaining in China allows for a LEGAL detention....which may be what he is willing to risk.

    Romney is campaigning to be President SuperBain; his cure is to cut wages, end pensions, let companies go bankrupt, and let the assets of production go dark or be sold to China. He really thinks thats the best of all possible Americas.

    by Inland on Wed May 02, 2012 at 08:07:14 AM PDT

  •  May want to update somewhat. (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    koNko, singlemom2012, wu ming, Sector 7G

    The LA Times is reporting that he left the embassy because of threats to his family.

    •  At this point (4+ / 0-)

      I'd tend to wait and see what happens. Sometimes activist/dissidents have their own agendas and not totally reliable. For example, while these negotiations were proceeding, some of these groups were leaking information that could have endangered Chen and I personally was impatient with this because I think the risk to him outweighed any need to politicize, which can wait.

      Add to that the fact reliable sources are reporting Chen was escorted to the hospital by a US official and meet his wife and kids there - total fabrication? Unlikely.

      But thanks for raising the issue and adding the link.

      Let's see what happens down the line a few days or weeks, that's the test.

      One thing is for sure: there is an international focus on this story at this point and that is useful leverage.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 08:39:04 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  That's great triangulation (0+ / 0-)

        Even the dissident is saying he's disappointed in the US Embassy.  He's actually harsher than Mitt!

        No wonder Chen is barely mentioned on this site: it doesn't look good to Democrats.

        For shame.

        •  No it's not triangulation. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          This is not a simple situation and I as I stated it's not a good idea to get to far ahead of the facts. If you are in a position to predict the future then please give us some stock tips.

          Well it seems Chen has changed his mind and his story and now wants to leave so I will update to reflects that with due credit.

          And I won't and don't need to step back from my remarks about the political actors - you may consider whether the leaks I referred to limited Chen's options and put him at risk - I do.

          How does this not look good for Dems? Does Mr Obama control the Chinese government? Is that your expectation?

          I would think that after sheltering Chen for 6 days and negotiating on Chen's behalf you and others would give them credit. That Chen has now flipped the table further complicating the situation does not count against whatever the US had done up to now but does not make it rather difficult for them to do what he asks.

          You want to heap shame on me? Please come here to China and do so.

          Why do you suppose I posted the video of Chen speaking for himself.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:03:27 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Dissidents were warning the US (0+ / 0-)

            Just like Romney was.  

            There is a severe problem with the diplomacy when the US hand-delivers a blind dissident into the hands of China.

            •  So you're saying the Obama administration is wrong (0+ / 0-)

              on this one?  Romney was right?

              •  Chen wouldn't have been handed over... (0+ / 0-)

                I guess you'll explain that it was okay to do so...

                •  So you are suggesting (0+ / 0-)

                  That the US should have held him in the Embassy against his will while his family was sent home?

                  And then?

                  Perhaps you should step back from the politics and consider the practical implications of the situation (which the US did not create) and what the alternatives were.

                  Obviously Chen did and decided to leave, putting family above politics, which I think was right.

                  I would never put politics above the safety of my daughter or wife, as politically incorrect and technically wrong as that might be. Maybe I'm just a weak character.

                  What about my Daughter's future?

                  by koNko on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:42:30 AM PDT

                  [ Parent ]

            •  "Hand delivered"? (0+ / 0-)

              Are you serious? What are you talking about?

              Were they supposed to hold Chen against his will?

              Chen, for better or worse, decided to leave and the reason seems quite clear; he feared what would happen if he left behind his family and they were returned home, a brave and correct decision in my viewpoint, but one that now complicates matters.

              You need to get some things clear:

              - From the start, his clearly stated intentions were to remain in China and seek justice for his case from the Government. Listen to his video I post above, these are his words.

              - We can presume the US negotiated on his behalf from that.

              - He was in the Embassy for 6 days. During that period the US handled it with discretion and diplomacy which would keep options open (verses staking a strong political position).

              - US officials escorted him to the hospital as agreed and so far, he remains there and presumably safe.

              How would you suggest the US now resolve the situation?  Chen is a Chinese citizen not a US citizen - do you recognize the limits of US authority and responsibility in this situation?

              Chen now expresses disappointment with the US. I don't understand the basis of that so unless he elaborates we don't know what his expectations were.

              Perhaps he was expecting the US to reunite him with his family inside the Embassy? But if so, how does that square with the fact that preceding his escape and in his posted video afterward he stated his intentions to remain in China so we have to take that at face value.

              We are not in a position to do anything but speculate and I'd rather not.

              I really admire Mr. Chen and really wish him well. But I don't see any way the US can resolve the present situation other than negotiating on his behalf to the extent that is possible.

              It seems Chen would now like to leave China with his family. I hope he can do that, he has suffered enough.

              But maybe you should accept it may be beyond the power of the US to make that happen, now, or before Chen left the Embassy.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:03:35 AM PDT

              [ Parent ]

          •  I lived in China for three years (0+ / 0-)

            In Changsha.  I've been there before and I'd love to go back.

  •  Um no... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    Looks like he was forced to leave the embassy.

    "BEIJING (AP) — Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng said Wednesday night that a U.S. official told him Chinese authorities had threatened to beat his wife to death if he did not leave the American Embassy.

    Speaking by phone from his hospital room in Beijing on Wednesday night, a shaken Mr. Chen told the Associated Press that U.S. officials relayed the threat from the Chinese side. He said he now fears for his safety and wants to leave the country."

    •  See my update (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      It's really not so clear that he was forced, but rather that he felt coerced by the threat his family would be returned home if he failed to leave.

      So again, I suggest people do not get to far ahead of events.

      As far as I know, as I write Mr Chen is still in Beijing and unharmed despite his turn on mind.

      This will not be easy to resolve as now Chen is asking the US to reverse position and negotiate his exit, something easier said than done.

      Should we believe he always wanted that? I personally doubt it as he has consistently stated for months his desire to remain in China and continue his work.

      Now he has changed his mind, but I fear, a bit late for the US to do what he asks.

      Well, let's see what happens next.

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:41:15 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  Sorry (0+ / 0-)

      I want to add one point.

      What Chen has said is he feared for his family, which I think is quite understandable, but the BBC report cited in my update suggests no direct treats were made, quoting a US official.

      What was threatened was to return his family home (from Beijing) if he did not leave the Embassy.

      From there, it's reasonable to suppose Chen felt coerced and if his family returns home they might face that so I suppose he reached that conclusion.

      Here is the complication in my viewpoint: if Chen had not originally requested to leave China and wanted to stay (what I believe), and the US had negotiated on that basis, then how can he or we fault US diplomats? Now he wants to leave they face a daunting task.

      What is your expectation under such circumstances?

      What about my Daughter's future?

      by koNko on Wed May 02, 2012 at 05:51:18 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Negotiated on that basis... (0+ / 0-)

        That's the whole problem.  Mitt was saying NOT to negotiate on that basis. Dissidents were saying NOT to negotiate on that basis.  

        It has been clear that China is not a good actor.

        Diplomacy is partly anticipating the next move.

        China's move was so obviously seen ahead of time that even a blind man could see it -- except for US diplomats.

      •  but it does bother me that basically the (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        State Department spokeswoman said that threats were made:

        Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman, denied threats were made, but said Chinese officials had made clear Chen's family would be returned to their home in Shandong -- where they suffered repeated abuse -- if he remained at the embassy.
        Basically, she restates the threat while denying it.

        Our actions while Chen was in our embassy are going to be judged.  We are talking about a high profile political dissident.  I do believe that he wanted to stay in China and that he wasn't seeking asylum, but it really does look like he was rushed out the embassy doors before adequate assurances were gained.

        If that was what happened, that really doesn't sit with me well.

        •  So then ... (0+ / 0-)

          You would have had the US hold Chen captive in the Embassy while his family was sent home?

          Based on his statements today, what Chen seems to be disappointed with is that after escorting him to the hospital and reuniting him with his family, US officials did not remain to watch over him. If that was agreed beforehand then he is right to be disappointed, but if he merely assumed that and it was not agreed then perhaps he should have requested it.

          We don't know. Let's not speculate.

          What would be adequate assurances?

          So far Chen remains in the hospital in Beijing despite the turn of events. What happens next we will have to wait to see.

          What about my Daughter's future?

          by koNko on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:17:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  I know I am just speculating (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:

            but Chen knew he was putting his family at risk when he escaped, and US officials just needed to push back on that point if Chinese officials were threatening Chen's family.

            I also don't know if Chen has his own agenda in all of this.  He might believe that the publicity from the situation brings its own form of immunity and it might serve his interest to stick it to both governments.

            I just think that there was a haste to get Chen out of the embassy when there maybe needn't have been.  Politically, maybe it would have been better if we let Chen stay in the embassy a few more weeks, even if doing so risked blowing up the high level talks this week.

            The end result could have been the same a week later, but it couldn't be spun that we were shoving Chen out the door  because the talks were more important than human rights.

            •  Certainly his escape put them at risk (0+ / 0-)

              Although I'm not sure it was much greater than what they already had to deal with being under house arrest.

              The practical problem now is trying to put toothpaste back in the tube.

              Both Chen and his lawyer now acknowledge that at the time he left it was his decision and desire to do so, and the films and photos of him meeting his family in the hospital show he was happy at that point.

              It seems his change of mind came after he and his wife spoke with some other dissidents now in the USA who convinced them it would be best to leave.

              Was there really an option for him to remain in the embassy for weeks? If he had he done so his family would have been sent home at risk and I don't see how the US could have guaranteed the safety of his family.

              Chen's escape set events in motion he cannot control.

              My sense of this situation now is the US is trying to be a good actor and deal with the situation but it's doubtful this could be resolved very soon. I would expect the Chinese government to hold him in safety but not bend so quickly, but there could be a possibility for Chen to leave once the situation cools-down because as long as he remains this will be a thorn in their foot.

              Now is the time for Mitt Romney to negotiate his release!

              And for me to leave for work. See you.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Thu May 03, 2012 at 05:45:06 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

              •  US Diplomats can't visit him (0+ / 0-)

                Sounds like a big fail to me and they're actually admitting they made a mistake.

                People trying to visit Chen in the hospital are being detained and beaten.

                Ai WeiWei said the situation is getting worse.

                On a nicer note, though, it appears China is going to let him leave "as a student".

                Lots of face-saving going on so that is encouraging.  But the entire affair was bungled.


            •  And now this ... (0+ / 0-)

              It seems he has changed his mind yet again and now wants to stay.

              What about my Daughter's future?

              by koNko on Thu May 03, 2012 at 06:17:21 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

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