The blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng had been under home arrest for 19 months until last week, when he escaped, took shelter at the US embassy, and appealed in a video for Wen Jiabao, the Chinese premier, to intervene on his behalf.
Mr Chen left the US embassy on Wednesday for a Beijing hospital as part of a deal brokered by the US. But within hours confusion was surrounding that deal and Mr Chen was telling news agencies he wanted to leave China.
Read about it in the FT:
- Mr Chen’s dramatic night-time escape came just weeks after Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing, attempted to defect to the US. When Wang ran away to the US embassy in Chengdu, he set off investigations that led to the downfall of Bo Xilai and raised a number of questions about political reform in China.
- Mr Chen’s escape has also prompted a number of questions about diplomatic relations between the US and China as Geoff Dyer, our US diplomatic correspondent pointed out.
- The FT’s Asia editor, David Pilling, muses on Mr Chen’s blindness and heroism – and the threat he poses to the authoritarian Chinese regime as a result. Previously, he also wondered whether the US might be well served by some pop-up embassies around China.
- Blinded by a fever at a young age, Mr Chen did not start primary school until he was 18. This all makes his career path, first as a career, then as a lawyer and activist, all the more impressive.
- The FT correspondents discuss the ramifications of the stituation in this week’s World Weekly podcast.
Best of the rest:
- The Atlantic asks whether the US has failed Chen Guangcheng.
- In 2005 the Washington Post looked at how Chen Guangcheng was locked up for speaking out about forced abortion cases near his home in eastern China. He was sentenced to four years for exposing forced abortions and sterilisations.
- The Post also examined how the issue of human rights has always cast a shadow over the US-China relationship.
- Evan Osnos of the New Yorker put his achievements into context, in a blog about his background and upbringing: “Born blind, to a peasant family, he once ventured four hundred miles to Beijing, when he was in his early twenties, to file a tax complaint.”
- This Flickr photo stream of pictures from yesterday includes this strong embrace from Kurt Campbell, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.