NPR : News

Filed Under:

China, U.S. Rushing To Resolve Crisis Over Blind Activist Chen

With Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner due in China for economic talks that start on Thursday, the U.S. and China are rushing to avert a diplomatic crisis over the fate of blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.

Chen escaped from house arrest earlier this month. Amid unconfirmed reports that he has found refuge at the U.S. embassy in Beijing, "sources in touch with the State Department tell us there's a push to sort out a deal for Chen and his family before the official talks between the U.S. and China kick off," CBS News reports. "Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell is said to be involved in tense negotiations over Chen's fate."

At The Atlantic Wire this morning, there's talk of a way that things could be worked that would "give both governments a dignified way out of the mess":

"If the Americans agree to take Chen in, that removes him as a potential distraction within China and serves a gracious concession on behalf of the party ahead of the upcoming summit. It isn't the ideal situation, but given the disaster that Chen's escape could have become, it's a chance turn a failure into a positive. Plus, the Americans get to say they took a stand for human rights, while simultaneously doing the Chinese a 'favor.' "

But as NPR's Louisa Lim and CNN's Steven Jiang report today, the way Chinese authorities are clamping down further on social media is a sign of how sensitive the situation is.

According to Louisa:

"There's a long list of forbidden terms on Chinese Twitter-like services, words for which searches are banned. In recent days, the list got longer still. Freshly banned words include 'blind man' 'U.S. embassy' and 'consulate,' as well as 'Chen Guangcheng.' "

Jiang reports that:

"Outside a busy Beijing subway station Monday, CNN randomly asked more than three dozen people about Chen — only two had heard of him and his escape. One, ... a young man who declined to give his name, said: 'It was all over Weibo [China's largest microblog service] for a while before the topic was censored.' "

Jiang adds that after he posted online about a web video that implied Campbell was in China to negotiate over Chen's fate, " 'StevenCNN' — my Weibo name — has become a banned search term."

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

Comic-Con Fans Continue The Epic Battle Between Science And Fiction

Fans of science fiction have long wrestled with the question of just how much science should be in their fiction. Advocates of different approaches met at San Diego's Comic-Con.
NPR

Scraped, Splattered — But Silent No More. Finally, The Dinner Plate Gets Its Say

Instagram is the Internet's semi-obsessive, borderline-creepy love letter to food. But behind every great meal is a plate doing a pretty-OK job. So a comedian made an Instagram to celebrate plates.
NPR

Leaked Democratic Party Emails Show Members Tried To Undercut Sanders

Just days before the Democratic National Committee convention gets underway, WikiLeaks releases almost 20,000 emails among DNC staff, revealing discussions of topics from Bernie Sanders to the media.
NPR

Making The Cloud Green: Tech Firms Push For Renewable Energy Sources

Few people can demand what kind of electricity they get. But Microsoft and Facebook, which operate huge, power-hungry data centers, are trying to green up the electricity grid with their buying power.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.