Dissident From China Expresses Optimism
The following excerpt was taken from The New York Times. For more, click here.
Despite suffering from years of illegal detention, Chen Guangcheng, the Chinese activist whose daring escape began an odyssey that brought him to New York University on a fellowship, expressed optimism on Thursday about the future of legal rights in China.
In his first major public appearance since shortly after arriving in the United States nearly two weeks ago, Mr. Chen, 40, also praised Chinese leaders for allowing him to exercise his legal right to study abroad as a Chinese citizen — and not, as in the cases of most other Chinese rights activists, forcing him into exile as a dissident. “I think we can see that the central government is letting me come to the U.S. to study,” Mr. Chen said at a forum sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “That is unprecedented, regardless of what they did in the past. As long as they’re beginning to move in the right direction, we should affirm it.”
Mr. Chen was greeted with loud applause when, still hobbling from a foot broken during his nighttime escape from his family farmhouse in Shandong Province, he spoke to an overflow crowd sprinkled with lawyers and rights advocates. He was accompanied by Jerome A. Cohen, a New York University law professor and China legal expert who has known Mr. Chen for many years.
Asked first by Mr. Cohen about Mr. Chen’s own most pressing question, Mr. Chen replied through an interpreter, “I think that what I’m most concerned about, also the most important question, is the state of law in China. It’s still very much being trampled on.”
He recounted how, as he had written in a New York Times Op-Ed article published Wednesday, the local authorities in his village had hired people armed with ax handles to exact retribution on members of his family after his escape to Beijing, where he received refuge at the United States Embassy. After tense negotiations with the Chinese authorities, American diplomats reached a deal under which Mr. Chen, accompanied by his wife and two children, was allowed to leave for the United States.
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