For the second time in two weeks, Chen Guangcheng phoned into a congressional hearing. The Washington Post recounts that while Chen said his immediate family was doing well, others close to him have suffered retribution after he sought sanctuary in the U.S. embassy in Beijing:
He expressed particular concern for his nephew, Chen Kegui, who has been arrested and accused of intent to murder, charges the activist called “trumped up.” He said Chinese authorities have threatened and harassed lawyers attempting to represent his nephew, making it all but impossible for them to see him.
Chen also stated that some family members, such as his brother and sister-in-law, remain under house arrest and are being closely watched.As part of the deal negotiated between American and Chinese diplomats, Chen was granted the opportunity to study in the United States once he recovers from the injuries he sustained escaping house arrest. According to officials from the State Department, Chen’s visa was processed more than a week ago but delays continue from the Chinese side. “We are ready when he and his government are ready,” said a State Department spokeswoman.It is heartening that, of all the places in China Chen could have escaped to, he felt safest in the American embassy. We are also pleased that like hundreds of thousands of Chinese over the years, Chen wants to continue his studies here.But America’s ability to help is limited. The continued harassment of his family is a sober reminder of the meager extent of U.S. influence over domestic matters in China.