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Shocker! I'm no expert on Chinese dissidents. Most of us at DKos aren't. I've been to China. Sort of. I've been to Hong Kong and Macau. Hardly the rural mainland. So, I freely admit that I don't know a lot about the Chen Guangcheng case.

Here's what I DO KNOW.

It is suddenly international news.  I know it's been on the fringes a little bit recently - like when actor Christian Bale tried unsuccessfully to meet with him.

And, it's REALLY big news at Fox.

Just minutes ago, here's what Fox had to say over the graphic that reads "Chinese Activist Begging The US to Fly Him to Safety":

"Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen says the US should not have given in to Chinese pressure"
Moments later, Fox's Megan Fox teased us with this:
Well, the Obama administration is facing a torrent of criticism for its handling of tihs situation. Former US Ambassador to the United Nations, John Bolton, is calling this a train wreck, referring to it as diplomatic malpractice. And some are saying, the Chinese diplomat was rushed out of the embassy so as not to spoil the stategic economic talks that America is having with China right now in Beijing.  Some political writers suggesting that this crisis could impact the 2012 Presidential race.  We'll debate that later, right here at America Live.
A red flag (no pun intended) always pops up when Fox beats a story into the ground.

Here's what else I know about this story.

Chen's case has been pushed heavily by Reverand Bob Fu, founder of the non-profit China Aid who refers to himself as "God's double agent." Fu, who fled China many years ago and settled in Midland, TX, was the subject of a recent Washington Post article.

MIDLAND, Tex. — One week ago, Bob Fu was an obscure crusader for religious rights in China. His nonprofit group, China Aid, improbably based in this dusty West Texas oil town, followed the plight of persecuted “house churches,” opposed forced sterilizations and abortions, and promoted pen-pal campaigns for pastors in prison.

In the past 72 hours, Fu has become an international media figure at the center of the most sensational human rights crisis in China in a decade. It erupted when blind lawyer and dissident Chen Guangcheng fled house arrest and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing — just as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton was arriving this week for critical and wide-ranging talks with Chinese officials.
http://www.washingtonpost.com/...

Fu, the article goes on to note, is the person who helped get Chen to the US embassy. It is presumed that Fu knew that Hillary Clinton was already going to be in Beijing and that it would shine a spotlight on the Chinese activist and on Fu's group China Aid. Perhaps he also knew that sending a Chinese citizen into a US Embassy would also creative an international crisis of sorts for the Obama Administration.

You can find out much more about Fu on Youtube. He has several videos of himself. The ones that I have watched praise George W. Bush for his "faith-based initiatives and his passion to religious freedom." One of his videos compares the Obama Administration to Chinese Communists... but he does admit that at least Obama allows freedom of speech and doesn't run over dissidents with tanks.

And here's something else I know.

According to the China Aid website, Zeng Jinyan, wife of Chen’s best friend Hu Jia, has been tweeting about the case (yes, I find that a little odd, too).

“He said from this past Friday he couldn’t make any more phone calls (contact the outside), nor could he contact any friends.  He wanted to contact Congressman Chris Smith but there was no way he could reach Smith.  He said he and his family were willing to leave China.”
http://www.chinaaid.org/...
So, HRC arranges a deal that gets Chen supposedly all he asks for and Chen leaves the embassy all smiles.  But then Bob Fu comes out and says the administration didn't do enough.

So Chen says he wants to talk to Chris Smith (but has no way to reach him).

Huh?

Chris Smith is a Republican congressman from New Jersey. Why Chris Smith?

Because Chris Smith is one of the leading anti-abortion voices in the US government. Did Chen know this already? Or did Bob Fu suggest he contact Smith?

Here's what wiki has to say about Smith:

Smith is one of the strongest opponents of abortion in either house of Congress[citation needed]. Smith has worked to stop abortions in military hospitals[citation needed]. He has also worked to reinstate the Ronald Reagan-era restrictions that would deny federal funds to family planning organizations that distribute literature abortions abroad[citation needed]. The ensuing struggle lasted more than two years, with Smith leveraging his opposition to the family planning money to prevent passage of the Clinton administration's high-priority efforts to reorganize the State Department, pay U.S. dues to the United Nations, and provide $18 billion for the International Monetary Fund[citation needed]. Smith finally was forced to yield in the 1998 and 1999 omnibus spending bills, but he won in return White House agreement to restrict support for international abortion education. George W. Bush restored the Mexico City Policy in an executive order in his first full day in office, but it has since been repealed by President Barack Obama.[10] Smith also was a prime mover of legislation to ban partial-birth abortions; the House voted to override Clinton's vetoes, but Smith's side fell a few votes short of the two-thirds needed in the Senate. In a January 22, 2004, press release, Smith stated, "Americans want the abortion holocaust to end." and referred to abortion as "child slaughter".[11]
And that takes me back full circle to why something's amiss about this story. Fox is telling us that "some political writers suggesting that this crisis could impact the 2012 Presidential race."  Really? Well, it sure looks like there are some who want it to impact the race.

Fox and the GOP are lining up to make this about Obama's failure to stand up to China. And the bonus for the GOP is that anti-choice forces around the country are using this story to fuel the Christian Conservative base.

As for that phone call to New Jersey's Chris Smith... someone must have gotten a hold of him.

Representative Christopher Smith, Chairman and Senator Sherrod Brown, Cochairman of the Congressional-Executive Commission on China   announce an emergency hearing on Recent Developments and History of the Chen Guangcheng Case
Thursday, May 3, 2012   2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.   2172 Rayburn House Office Building

The recent escape of self-trained legal advocate Chen Guangcheng from illegal house arrest has attracted international attention and concern. On April 22, Chen escaped from his home in Dongshigu village, Linyi city, Shandong province, where he and his family had been detained without charge for 19 months. After escaping from home confinement, Chen met the U.S. Ambassador and Administration officials at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing and received medical treatment. Recent reports suggest that U.S. and Chinese officials have negotiated an agreement that would permit Chen and his family to remain in China with assurances from the Chinese government that they can live a normal life. The Commission hearing will address ongoing developments in the Chen Guangcheng case and reported prospects for himself, his family and his supporters. Witnesses will discuss details of the previous detention of Chen and his family under an illegal form of "house arrest," as well as his escape to seek safety at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. In addition, witnesses will also address Chen's legal advocacy work.

Chen, a self-trained legal advocate who has represented farmers, the disabled and other groups, is perhaps best known for the attention he drew to population planning abuses, particularly forced abortions and forced sterilizations, in Linyi, in 2005. In deeply flawed legal proceedings, authorities sentenced him in 2006 to four years and three months in prison. Following his release in September 2010, Chen, his wife Yuan Weijing, and their six-year-old daughter were subjected to beatings, home confinement and constant surveillance. Throughout the detention, Chinese authorities undertook forceful measures to prevent and harass journalists and supporters who attempted to visit the family.

Witnesses:

Pastor Bob Fu, Founder and President, ChinaAid Association
Chai Ling, Founder, All Girls Allowed
Wang Xuezhen, human rights advocate
Reggie Littlejohn, President, Women's Rights Without Frontiers

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Comment Preferences

  •  And any way it turns out, the naysayers are (6+ / 0-)

    going to try to indict the POTUS so i say go for the greater good. There are extremely sensitive talks going on right now, talks important to the United States at large. We need to take care of business, while monitoring the situation with Chen. Once the business is concluded we can then address what to do with Chen. My best guess is that China(with their collective national ego) will be glad to offload Chen, but for now he is a pawn.

    Falling in and out of love with you.

    by pure prarie on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:15:06 AM PDT

  •  From someone actually involved (10+ / 0-)

    Via Sullivan  

    Jerome Cohen, a well known China legal scholar (and former WRM colleague at the Council on Foreign Relations) gives a version of events that supports State Department claims that Chen left the embassy voluntarily, was not pressured by US officials, and accepted the negotiated agreement with the intention of staying in China.  Cohen, who was involved in the discussions at Chen’s request, is well respected — and not just by those who, like me, have known him and his work for many years. According to Cohen, the deal originally accepted by Chen was modeled on an arrangement made by the famous dissident Ai Weiwei which has allowed Ai to stay in the country and participate, carefully, in political and cultural life.

    Republican Family Values: Using the daughters from your first wife to convince everybody that your second wife is lying about your third wife.

    by jsfox on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:21:05 AM PDT

  •  It's entirely a "manufactured" (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dannyinla, blueoldlady, devis1, worldlotus

    "diplomatic crisis" . . . comparable, were situations reversed, to China taking a position on the Trayvon Martin case and making a "human rights" issue of it on the Federal diplomatic level.

    The whole thing is farce, being played as melodrama.

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:31:42 AM PDT

    •  from the LA Times (5+ / 0-)

      Looks like Fu wants Chen in the US even more then Chen wants to be in the US.

      Fu, who has advocated for Chen and other Chinese human rights activists through his Midland, Texas-based nonprofit ChinaAid, said he has been in touch with Chen, 40, before the activist's dramatic escape to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on April 22.

      "He’s not interested in seeking political asylum or refugee" status, said Fu, 44. "If the Chinese government offers him a security guard and meet some of his demands to punish some of the officials, if that's a risk he wants to take, he may just choose to stay in China."

      But Fu had been hoping Chen would travel to the U.S. for medical reasons. "If I were him, given the knowledge of what has happened to many of his friends -- kidnapping, torture ... I would advise him at least to come to the U.S. to stay for a while to recuperate and protect his family," he said.

      http://www.latimes.com/...

      Even on today's press call, Fu insists that Chen wants to come to the US.
  •  Chen opposes forced abortion (5+ / 0-)

    in China. We're witnessing attempts to co-opt him by forces that want to criminalize all abortion in the U.S.. Chen presumably doesn't know that abortion politics in the U.S. revolve access to voluntary abortion as opposed to women being required to have abortions to maintain the one child policy. It's unlikely that he has any desire to become embroiled in American politics.

    Mr. Romney, if you move to the White House will you add on a car elevator?

    by Red Bean on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:46:27 AM PDT

    •  I'm listening to the Fu/Smith press call as I type (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blueoldlady, Gemina13, worldlotus

      as well as reading poorly translated tweets from Chen's lawyer.  It is clear that this is a huge political chess match being played out with Fu & Chris Smith highlighting that this is a turning point in human rights, and others who are trying to point their finger (like a BBC reporter & LA Times reporter Molly Hennessy Fiske)) on the veracity of the reports and the actual wishes of Chen.

  •  Well, whatever this is about, (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    tobendaro

    abortion is not about the fetus.  Abortion is about the sperm, the vital essence.  Spermicide, whether natural or man-made is the great Satan.
    If man cannot dominate the vessel into which he deposits his sperm nothing is certain.

    People to Wall Street: "LET OUR MONEY GO"

    by hannah on Thu May 03, 2012 at 11:50:47 AM PDT

  •  I also suspect that if the US (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dannyinla

    were to offer an "open immigration" policy to China (and cover relocation costs) that the Chinese Government would be happy to come up with a list of a hundred million names (or more) to send us.  A sort of "good riddance to bad rubbish" policy (from their perspective), like the Mariel Boatlift . . .

    Fake Left, Drive Right . . . not my idea of a Democrat . . .

    by Deward Hastings on Thu May 03, 2012 at 12:08:10 PM PDT

  •  I've met some of the missionaries (6+ / 0-)

    who apply for visas to China, claiming to be English teachers when in fact they're organizing churches there.

    In their minds, lying on their visa applications is completely justified by the greater good of supporting Christians in China.  And many of them are shocked when you point out that they are in fact lying.

    Personally, I think reasonable minds can differ on the ethical issues involved in situations like that - I disagree with what the missionaries are doing, yet I hope I would have been willing to violate the laws of the Confederacy by participating in the Underground Railway, for example.  Maybe not a reasoned distinction, just the way my sympathies happen to fall.

    From what I've read so far about Bob Fu and his political connections, however, it doesn't sound to me like this is a principled protest against Chinese government repression.   I think there's a justifiable suspicion that Chen is just another pawn in the Republicans' spiteful game of Damn the Innocent to Beat Obama At Any Cost.

  •  In hindsight (5+ / 0-)

    It seems that we would have been better off making Chen cozy and letting him stay in the embassy until maybe sometime in late November.

    I'm beginning to think this was all a right wing setup.

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