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