Blind activist Chen Guangcheng told a U.S. congressional subcommittee on Tuesday that China had violated the deal that enabled him to leave the country last year, saying that Beijing had continued to persecute his family despite promises to ensure their safety. From AFP (via the South China Morning Post):
In an interview, Chen voiced anger over a prison sentence handed in November to his nephew, Chen Kegui, who the activist said had been severely beaten as retaliation for the escape that made headlines around the world.
“Not only has the Chinese government not fulfilled its own promises to me a year ago, but it has also become worse as they have not stopped persecuting my family members,” Chen said.
“This in itself shows that the Chinese communist regime has no intention to change its course,” he said.
Chen said the authorities in Shandong province had attempted to remove the four-year-old son of Chen Kegui from school last month, according to Radio Free Asia, and Chen Kegui’s father said he had been followed as he attempted to take the child to school. Chen pressed Congress to disclose the details of the deal brokered between the State Department and the Chinese government in May of last year, according to Karen DeYoung of The Washington Post:
He asked the panel to obtain “and publish the written and oral diplomatic agreements between China and the United States with regard to this incident of mine,” including a letter he wrote to China’s then-premier, Wen Jiabao, after seeking refuge in the U.S. Embassy compound.
The administration has never fully described the hectic events of last April, when Chen sought refuge in the embassy. He was then taken to a local hospital and finally granted a visa to the United States and allowed to leave.
A State Department spokesperson was asked about Chen’s testimony during Wednesday’s daily press briefing:
QUESTION: Well, is there some kind of secret document that you’re aware of?
MR. VENTRELL: Not that I’m aware of. I mean, certainly we have records of our diplomatic interactions, but —
QUESTION: No, no, no. But I mean something that would be – that maybe Secretary Clinton or Ambassador Locke or someone signed with the Chinese. Is there something in writing about the – which provides guarantees from the Chinese side about how his family would be treated? Or was it all done verbally?
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not sure on that question one way or another. We characterized publicly what we could about the negotiation at the time.
QUESTION: Well, he yesterday testified that there was such a – there is such a document out there. So if you could – I’m not suggesting, although I would like it if you would – if there is one, if you would release it, but I’m not asking for it to be released at the moment. I’d just like to know if there is one.
MR. VENTRELL: I’m not aware one way or another.
QUESTION: Well, can you ask?
MR. VENTRELL: I’d be happy to look into it, but I’m not aware one way or another.
See also CDT coverage of a recent inverview given by Chen and an op-ed he wrote in The Washington Post with Geng He, the wife of vanished human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng.