Roundup: Chinese dissident leaves U.S. embassy
Human rights activist Chen Guangcheng appears on YouTube after slipping away from house arrest.
May 2nd, 2012
09:48 AM ET

Roundup: Chinese dissident leaves U.S. embassy

Editor's Note: The following is reprinted with the permission of the Council on Foreign Relations.

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who fled house arrest last week, left the U.S.embassy in Beijing to go to a medical facility and reunite with his family (NYT), theUnited States said in a statement today. The statement was issued hours after U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrived inBeijing for planned economic and security talks with senior Chinese officials. The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that Chen had stayed in theU.S. embassy for six days, while demanding an apology from theUnited States. The incident is expected to overshadow the two days of U.S.-China discussions.

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"Initially, speculation centered on a possible face-saving departure from China on medical grounds for Chen–and that a hospital check-up was needed for that to happen. But a U.S. official later said that Chen never asked for the Americans' help in seeking asylum and that he had left the American Embassy after being told by the Chinese side that he would be treated as an ordinary citizen–presumably meaning one that is not subject to extralegal house arrest," writes TIME's Hannah Beech.

"What Chen's escape confirms however is the existence of a network that–albeit more ad hoc and less extensive–can still manage to evade the Big Brother surveillance techniques and technology of Chinese officialdom–much like the web of activists, sympathizers, business executives, religious believers, diplomats, underworld characters, Hong Kong celebrities, and even sympathetic local Chinese officials who took part in Operation Yellowbird from 1989 to around 1997," writes Newsweek's Melinda Liu.

"The United States needs to work with Beijing. But Mr. Chen's safety and that of his family is not negotiable. There would be no crisis if China's autocrats didn't deny their people the most basic rights. China, eager for international respect, will further damage its reputation if it continues to abuse its own citizens," argues this New York Times editorial.


Suu Kyi Sworn Into Parliament

Myanmar's pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi (NYT) was sworn into the country's lower house of parliament today, along with three dozen members of her National League for Democracy party.

CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick discusses UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon's visit to Myanmar this week and his relationship with Suu Kyi in the CFR blog Asia Unbound.


Obama, Karzai Sign Strategic Pact

In an unannounced visit to Kabul (al-Jazeera) late on Tuesday, U.S. President Barack Obama signed a strategic accord with Afghan President Hamid Karzai outlining the U.S.-Afghan relationship after theU.S. combat mission ends in 2014. The deal allows the United States to potentially keep troops in Afghanistan for training missions and targeted operations after 2014.

Meanwhile, the Taliban allegedly orchestrated a suicide attack in Kabul (AP) early Wednesday morning in response to Obama's visit, killing at least six people.

Though toppled from power in Kabulin 2001, the Taliban has become a resilient force active on two fronts–in Afghanistan and Pakistan, explains this CFR Backgrounder.


UN Says Syria Cease-Fire Violated

The Syrian government and opposition forces are violating a UN-Arab League cease-fire, UN Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations Herve Ladsous said yesterday. There are currentlytwenty-four unarmed UN military observers (CNN) on the ground to monitor the cease-fire.

EGYPT: Unknown attackers targeted a Cairo demonstration against Egypt's interim military rulers (BBC), killing at least eleven protesters and injuring up to one hundred.

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Deadly Suicide Bombing in Somalia

An alleged al-Shabaab suicide bomber (NYT) blew himself up in the central Somali town of Dhusamareb yesterday, killing at least four people, including members of the country's transitional parliament.

This CFR Backgrounder provides a profile of the al-Shabaab Islamist militant organization based in southern Somalia.

ERITREA: The east African nation is the number one country worldwide for media censorship (al-Jazeera), followed by North Korea, Syria, and Iran, said a new report by the Committee to Protect Journalists.


Eurozone Manufacturing Weakens

The Markit Economics' purchasing mangers' index for the eurozone dropped to 45.9 from 47.7 in April, its quickest contraction in close to three years (WSJ), amid growing concern over a deepening eurozone recession.

RUSSIA: Police arrested seventeen gay rights activists (Guardian) at a May Day rally inSt. Petersburg yesterday. In March,St. Petersburg adopted a law banning "homosexual propaganda."


Bolivia Nationalizes Spanish-Owned Company

Bolivian President Evo Morales ordered the military to seize control (AFP) of power company Transportadora de Electricidad SA, a subsidiary of Spain's Red Electrica Corporation. The move comes on the heels of a similar decision by Argentina to nationalize a subsidiary of a Spanish oil company last month.

UNITED STATES: A federal jury yesterday found Bosnian-American Adis Medunjanin guilty ofplotting suicide attacks on the New York City subway system (al-Jazeera) in September 2009. He will be sentenced in September.


Candidates Mark Bin Laden Anniversary

Presidential candidates from both parties spent Tuesday making special visits to observe the first anniversary of Osama bin Laden's death, with President Obama making a surprise appearance in Afghanistan (WashPost) and GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney joining former mayor Rudy Giuliani in New York City (Politico) at a fire station that was hit hard with losses on 9/11.

In New York, Romney took the opportunity to defend his 2007 comments (NYT) that he would not pursue bin Laden into Pakistan, which the Obama campaign is using in a controversial 2012 ad. Romney also commended Obama's visit to Afghanistan in a statement, saying the Taliban must not be permitted to return to power.

After just a few of weeks with the campaign, Romney's national security and foreign policy spokesmanRichard A. Grenell resigned Tuesday (WashPost).

Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.

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Topics: China • Daily Roundup

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soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Fides in Aeternum

    "Chen had stayed in theU.S. embassy for six days, while demanding an apology from theUnited States. "

    Yeah, that doesn't make any sense. Does anyone other than the author ever proof-read these posts?

    May 2, 2012 at 12:04 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      "The Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed that Chen had stayed in theU.S. embassy for six days, while demanding an apology from theUnited States". It's the Chinese Foreign Ministry that demanded an apoolgy.

      May 2, 2012 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  2. j. von hettlingen

    I doubt if any harm would be done to Chen and his family in the coming days. No doubt China won't forget the embarrassment Chen had caused the country. He and his family could face punishment one day. There are plenty of volunteers who would teach them a lesson. Hence they should leave the country.

    May 2, 2012 at 3:44 pm | Reply
  3. j. von hettlingen

    The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and showed Obama that he and the U.S. forces were not welcomed in Afghanistan and that they would continue their resistance until all foreigners are beaten and chased out of their country.

    May 2, 2012 at 3:51 pm | Reply
  4. j. von hettlingen

    The attack on demonstrators in Cairo was alleged to be orchestrated by the military as the thugs were using rocks, clubs, firebombs and shotguns and live ammunition.

    May 2, 2012 at 3:58 pm | Reply
  5. George Patton

    What we need to do here is to have a third country like Vietnam come in offer this Chen Guangcheng political asylum in their country so that the U.S. and China can get on with other business at hand.

    May 2, 2012 at 7:13 pm | Reply
    • j. von hettlingen

      Norway might grant Chen and his family asylum! Norway is the depositary of the Nobel Peace Prize, which also gave another Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobao the Peace Prize in 2010, which was delivered to him in absentia.

      May 3, 2012 at 1:54 am | Reply
  6. medhat

    this site is very good to learn english for free

    May 2, 2012 at 10:07 pm | Reply
    • George Patton

      Too bad medhat, that it can't be that way for the Russian language too!!!

      May 3, 2012 at 1:32 pm | Reply

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