May 7th, 2012 16:33 EST
Chen Guangcheng Invites Hillary Clinton to Visit Him
In a dramatic twist, the blind Chinese activist and lawyer Chen Guangcheng who has captured the headlines in the past week spoke by telephone directly to a Congressional hearing on his plight and asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to visit him while she is in Beijing for high-level bilateral talks.
The impromptu phone conversation between Chen and the Congressional-Executive Commission on China was initiated by ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu, who has been a long-standing champion of Chen and who has been in regular contact with him and his supporters since Chen managed to escape his captors who have held him in extra-judicial house arrest since October 2010.
The CECC on Wednesday called for the emergency hearing on "Recent Developments and History of the Chen Guangcheng Case" after Chen, who had taken refuge in the U.S. Embassy, was taken by U.S. officials to a Beijing hospital and immediately surrounded by Chinese security and officials who have refused to allow U.S. officials to visit him.
ChinaAid`s Bob Fu, in his prepared remarks to the CECC (full text below), questioned whether "the Chinese and U.S. governments have struck a shameful deal." Citing the well-known fact that Chen and his family members have been the target of repeated and consistent abuse by Chinese officials, Fu pointed out the unlikelihood that, as U.S. officials have claimed, "Chen Guangcheng left the embassy of his own volition."
Other witnesses also raised questions about how the U.S. side had handled the negotiations resulting in the handing over of Chen into the hands of the Chinese. Several asked the commission to bring the officials to testify about their actions and decisions at a future hearing.
The witnesses also spoke eloquently and movingly about the black mark that this incident has left on the reputation of the United States, with one panelist reading a selection of Chinese Internet posts decrying the U.S. move.
After the witnesses had all testified, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-VA) asked if anyone had been in touch with Chen since Wednesday.
A short time later, Fu and CECC chairman Chris Smith (R-NJ) telephoned Chen in his Beijing hospital room and were able to have him speak directly to the hearing. Chen said clearly that he wanted Clinton to visit him and also appealed for U.S. government help in ensuring the safety of all his family members.
He expressed his desire to leave China with his family, but made it clear that he thought of it as only a temporary measure so that he could "rest." He did not say anything about seeking political asylum.
The other witnesses were:
Sophie Richardson, Ph.D., China Director, Human Rights Watch
T. Kumar Director, International Advocacy for Amnesty International USA
Wang Xuezhen, human rights advocate
Cao Yaxue , Human Rights Advocate, Blogger
Michael Horowitz, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Reggie Littlejohn, President, Women`s Rights Without Frontiers
The C-Span website has the entire hearing online here.
Click hereto read ChinaAid founder and president Bob Fu`s prepared remarks to the CECC hearing.