Following legal activist Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest and subsequent stay in the U.S. embassy in Beijing in 2012, Chinese and U.S. government officials engaged in intensive negotiations to determine his fate. In her recent book, “Hard Choices,” Hillary Clinton dedicated a chapter to her role in negotiating Chen’s departure for the U.S., which led Chinese authorities to ban the sale of her book. In his new memoir, “The Barefoot Lawyer,” Chen contradicts Clinton’s portrayal of her role and says she and her colleagues “gave in” to their Chinese counterparts. Peter Foster reports for the Telegraph:
The rescue of the 43-year-old “barefoot lawyer” featured prominently in Mrs Clinton’s manifesto-memoir, Hard Choices, as a triumph of white-knuckle diplomacy that also respected Mr Chen’s individual rights and wishes.
She wrote that “we had done what Chen said he wanted every step of the way”, echoing her public remarks at the time in Beijing that “all of our efforts with Mr Chen have been guided by his choices and our values”.
But Mr Chen, while expressly grateful for being given refuge first at the embassy and later in the US, directly contradicted Mrs Clinton in his 322-page memoir The Barefoot Lawyer, a copy of which has been seen by The Telegraph.
“The country that most consistently advocated for democracy […] had simply given in”
Far from having his wishes respected, Mr Chen described how he was relentlessly “pressured to leave” the embassy for a Beijing hospital and forced to accept an “absurdly inadequate” deal on pain of the Chinese government accusing him of treason. [Source]
Clinton is not the only U.S. official singled out by Chen. From Isaac Stone Fish of Foreign Policy:
In a copy of Chen’s unpublished memoir, The Barefoot Lawyer, obtained by Foreign Policy, Chen details the promises U.S. officials made to him — and then broke. According to Chen, Kurt Campbell, the then-assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs and the highest-ranking United States diplomat directly involved in the affair, said that he and then-American Ambassador Gary Locke would personally reunite the dissident with his family.
“‘I swear on my mother’s name, on the name of my children, in the name of God, that Ambassador Locke and I will go to get your family,’” Campbell told Chen inside the embassy, according to the dissident’s account. Campbell then asked Chen to make a statement “that the American government has been extremely helpful and that you completely trust us.”
Campbell didn’t keep his promise to go to rural China and bring Chen’s family to Beijing. Instead, it was Chinese officials who did so, causing Chen to fear for their safety. The Americans, Chen writes, “relinquished control of the situation.” Furious, Chen instead made a different statement, and complained that U.S. officials abandoned him, exacerbating a diplomatic tiff between Washington and Beijing. [Source]
Chen is currently a fellow at the Witherspoon Institute, a conservative think tank in Princeton, NJ. Read more about Chen Guangcheng, via CDT.