Sign in to comment!

Menu
Home

Asia & Pacific

Blind Chinese activist headed to US, closing nearly month long US-China diplomatic tussle

Chen_US.jpg

Saturday May 19, 2012: This image taken from AP video shows blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, left, pushed in a wheelchair at Beijing International airport.

A U.S. official confirmed Saturday morning that blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng and his family are en route to the United States so he can pursue studies at an American university.

The announcement is a closing chapter to a dramatic past few weeks in which Chen escaped house arrest April 22 in his rural, home province and fled to the U.S. embassy in Beijing.

"We are looking forward to his arrival in the United States later today," Victoria Nuland, State Department spokeswoman, said. "We also express our appreciation for the manner in which we were able to resolve this matter and to support Mr. Chen's desire to study in the U.S. and pursue his goals."

His arrival at the U.S. embassy following his escape started delicate, high-stakes diplomatic negotiations ahead of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's arrival a few days later in Beijing for scheduled diplomatic talks with Chinese leaders.

Chen left the embassy on May 2 and was taken to a hospital, amid speculation he departed with no assurance he could come to the United State or that his family would be protected.

U.S. officials said all of their decisions followed Chen's wishes. Chen, who exposed forced abortions and sterilizations as part of China's one-child policy, has since been at the hospital awaiting permission to travel to the U.S. to study.

He is coming to the U.S. with his wife and two children and is expected to arrive later Saturday.

The family does not yet have passports and is with traveling hospital and border-control staff.

"Thousands of thoughts are surging to my mind," said Chen, who has an invitation to study law at New York University.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry said Saturday that it had no comment on Chen's planned departure.

"We are happy for Chen and his family,” said Pastor Bob Fu, of Texas-based  ChinaAid, who has been campaigning for Chen's freedom internationally. “This is a great day for freedom fighters.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.