Chen Guang Cheng’s great escape from house arrest, oppression and beatings has taken an awkward twist, with the activist in the custody of the Chinese government and the US administration feeling the heat from human rights activists across the world. The Twitter-verse turned from joyous to shocked to depressed as word came through from people like activist Zeng Jinyan and Chen’s lawyer, Teng Biao, that Chen was safe in the Embassy, then, suddenly, that he was leaving the US Embassy for Beijing’s Chaoyang Hospital.
As soon as that news was reported, Chen’s supporters around the world let out a collective groan of dismay. Releasing Chen to the Chinese government is basically the kiss of death, no matter what assurances the Chinese authorities give concerning his safety and the safety of his family. Yet that is exactly what the US did. For several hours last night, the mood was both somber and furious as friends called for action, shook their heads at US diplomacy and worried that Chen would disappear, this time forever.
All things are murky now. Men in black suits and black cars picked up Zeng Jinyan this morning and she is now under house arrest, according to a tweet earlier today. Representative Chris Smith has called for a Congressional Hearing on Chen’s case and Chen himself told CNN’s Steven Jiang that the Embassy lied to him (must read interview transcript).
How did it come to this?