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Chen Affair Exposes the Limits of U.S. Influence in China

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.

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  • gracepmc

    All due respect, but when you escort him from the Embassy and dump him alone at a hospital you pretty much have limited your ability to help. Pretty much indefensible.

  • Luke Lea

    Wei Jingsheng said it best 34 years ago:

  • Luke Lea

    Report: China’s Political Turmoil Drives Migration Trend

    “First it’s safety, it’s not safe in China. Your money maybe in your pockets now, but that may not be the case later. What’s behind this? It’s a lack of rule of law. They can say you broke the law or change their minds. It’s easy to use the law to convict you, this is the main thing.”

  • Luke Lea

    “Chinese applicants make up the bulk of investor migration to the United States and Canada.”

    Next it’ll be tongs and triads you think?

    OTH, if we let them move here that will remove an obstacle to reform over there maybe? Or would it just be a drop in the bucket.

    Meanwhile I read it is impossible to do real business in China without being corrupt. What does that say about Ford, Apple, and a few other companies I might name off the top of my head?

    What is this doing to us?

  • jonathan rubinstein

    The business of the American Embassy in China is money. The Chen affair demonstrates that Hillary is as spineless as her husband, all blather. China is a dictatorship and they have our current ruling class by the [profane reference removed]. Hillary speaks for them. The Chinese recognized they needed to do something for her. They will let Chen go and rip the fingernails out of all his friends. And we will say nothing. We have become pathetic.

  • ltlee1

    China had asked the US to apology for getting Chen into the US Embassy in an abnormal manner. His nephew had knifed a certain official on the same day Chen had left the village. Was US agents or officials involved? US forcing Chen to leave the US Embassy and Obama’s silence on the episode are intriguing.

    BTW, China does not mention any deal with the US. It only said Chen could apply to study in the USA like other Chinese citizens.

  • Diplomad
  • Jacksonian Libertarian

    Chen is now in the US, so American influence is more powerful than expressed here.

    I believe that American Cultural Influence has spread to every corner of China and the world, in the form of Movies, TV, Games and the unspoken American Cultural assumptions they all carry. Assumptions about Capitalism, Democracy, and The Rule of Law permeate everything, and have become imbedded in cultures that have never had any of them.

    The Chinese Communist Party must know how deeply American Cultural influence has now reached into their population, and no doubt it is scaring the hell out of them.

    *In a Borg Voice* You will be assimilated, resistance is futile.

    *Putting my little finger to the corner of my mouth* Wwwaaaahhh haa haa haa, Wwwaaaahhh haa haa haa.

  • Luke Lea

    @ Jacksonian Libertarian – “Assumptions about Capitalism, Democracy, and The Rule of Law permeate everything, and have become imbedded in cultures that have never had any of them.”

    Assumptions don’t put food on the table. Look at what happened to Wei Jingsheng 34 years ago, to the Tienanmen Square protestors 23 years ago, and to that Nobel Laureate what’s-his-name 4 years ago. Do you see progress?

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