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.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.
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.
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.”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).
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. Smith has worked to stop abortions in military hospitals. 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. 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. 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. 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".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.
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