Thursday, May 3, 2012

US Confirms Blind Activist Wants to Leave China

Will the Obama administration cave?

The rural Chinese activist at the center of a diplomatic standoff between Washington and Beijing now wants to leave China with his family, a U.S. spokeswoman said.

State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters that U.S. officials had spoken twice Thursday with Chen Guangcheng and also with his wife and "they as a family have had a change of heart about whether they want to stay in China."

"We need to consult with them further to get a better sense of what they want to do and consider their options," Nuland said.

The blind, self-taught lawyer spent six days in the U.S. Embassy after fleeing illegal house arrest and other mistreatment in his rural town where his activism angered local officials. He emerged Wednesday when U.S. officials said they had an agreement with Chinese officials for him to set up a new life in another province.

It's unclear whether China would be willing to negotiate further over Chen's fate. The government already has expressed anger that the U.S. harbored a Chinese activist, and China's Foreign Ministry reiterated its displeasure Thursday, calling the affair interference in Chinese domestic matters.

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