Date: May 05 2012
CHEN Guangcheng, the blind Chinese legal activist who escaped home detention and sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing, will be allowed to apply to study abroad ''like any other citizen'', China's Foreign Ministry has said.
''Chen Guangcheng is currently being treated in hospital,'' Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.
''If he wants to study abroad, he can apply through normal channels … just like any other Chinese citizen.''
A US State Department spokeswoman said yesterday Mr Chen had been offered a fellowship at a university in the US and could be accompanied by his wife and two children.
''The Chinese government has indicated it will accept Mr Chen's applications for … travel documents,'' she said.
Earlier yesterday, Mr Chen had phoned a US congressional hearing from his Beijing hospital bed to make an emotional plea for US protection.
He asked to meet Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Beijing, and expressed his concern over the welfare of his mother and other family members. His first-floor room at Beijing Chaoyang Hospital remained cordoned off from media and general visitors.
Mrs Clinton yesterday said Mr Chen had confirmed he wanted to go to the US to pursue his studies. She told reporters progress had been made in helping Mr Chen achieve the future he wanted.
Meanwhile, a dramatic account has emerged of how the US embassy in Beijing sent a car to pick up Mr Chen.
The account by The New York Times said that a bloodied Mr Chen, after clambering over several walls under cover of darkness to flee his guards on April 22, was driven by a friend from his home in the north-eastern province of Shandong to the capital.
There, he was moved from house to house by supporters before deciding he wanted to go to the US embassy, the paper said, citing Chen supporters and an unidentified US official.
One friend contacted the embassy, saying Mr Chen had a serious foot injury sustained during his escape and needed help. State Department legal adviser Harold Koh, who was in Beijing, consulted top US officials, before deciding Mr Chen qualified for short-term humanitarian assistance.
It was agreed the embassy would send a car to rendezvous with Mr Chen's vehicle several kilometres from the US diplomatic compound, and that the lawyer would then be transferred to the embassy car.
The Times said that as the two vehicles were about to meet, the Americans noticed Chinese security cars following them. Mr Chen's car moved into an alley, the embassy vehicle drew alongside it and the lawyer was pushed into the US vehicle, it said. The Americans shook off the Chinese security cars and took Mr Chen to the embassy.
With AFP, BLOOMBERG
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