On its face, this sounds a bit odd.
A Chinese human rights activist who escaped house arrest and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing left for a hospital Wednesday, opening a new chapter in the life of a man at the center of a controversy between the United States and China.
Chen Guangcheng's presence in the U.S. Embassy prompted a flurry of diplomatic activity between the United States and China. It threatened to overshadow U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's scheduled meetings with senior Chinese leaders this week.
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Chen departed the embassy "of his own volition" after spending six days there, reported Xinhua, the state-run Chinese news agency. He will be treated at a medical facility in the Chinese capital, where he will be reunited with his family, a senior U.S. official said.
Really? Chen just up and left voluntarily? I have a hard time believing that, given this report. And especially given that it was US officials apparently telling him about Red Chinese threats to murder his wife.
Which makes matters even worse when you consider events just a few months ago involving another high profile individual seeking asylum whose bid was rejected for fear of disrupting a high-level meeting.
The office of Vice President Joe Biden overruled State and Justice Department officials in denying the political asylum request of a senior Chinese communist official last February over fears the high-level defection would upset the U.S. visit of China’s vice president, according to U.S. officials.
The defector, Wang Lijun, was turned away after 30 hours inside the U.S. Consulate Chengdu and given over to China’s Ministry of State Security, the political police and intelligence service.
Wang has not been seen since Feb. 7 and remains under investigation. His attempt to flee China set off a major power struggle within the ruling Communist Party and led to the ouster of leftist Politburo member Bo Xilai and the arrest of his wife on murder charges.
New disclosures on the handling of the failed defection come as the Obama administration is facing a new test of its relations with Beijing over another defection, the flight to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing of Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist who is believed to be in hiding there.
Hmmmm. . . a defector being tossed out into the arms of the totalitarian Red Chinese regime because his presence was “inconvenient” to the timing of a diplomatic event, and now another one “voluntarily departing” from the embassy in similar circumstances? The parallel is just too striking for me to accept the latter explanation.
Oh, and about the Wang Lijun attempted defection – looks like we might need an impeachment inquiry, since there is the little matter of federal law being violated. Under the Refugee Act of 1980, Wang Lijun was qualified for refugee status because of his well-founded fear of persecution.