Chen wants to kiss Clinton as Beijing seeks apology
Chinese activist Chen (L) is seen in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse at a hospital in Beijing. A US official says Beijing commits to allow him to go to safe place in China. AFP photoChinese activist Chen Guangcheng has left the United States embassy to seek medical care and join his family, U.S. officials said today, as Beijing demanded a U.S. apology on the eve of key talks between the two powers. Chen told visiting U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “I want to kiss you” after the U.S. arranged a deal for his safety.
A U.S. official said Beijing has committed to allow Chen to go to a “safe” place in China, adding the activist made no request to leave the country. “China is very unhappy over this. The U.S. action is an interference in China’s internal affairs and China cannot accept it,” Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said, as quoted by the state Xinhua news agency.
“China demands that the U.S. apologize and thoroughly investigate this incident, deal with the people who are responsible and ensure these types of incidents do not occur again,” he said.
US: No repeat of incident
A U.S. official said there would be no repeat of the incident involving Chen, but declined to comment on China’s call for an apology. In what appeared to be a carefully scripted response, a senior U.S. official said: “This was an extraordinary case involving exceptional circumstances and we do not anticipate that it will be repeated.” “Recognizing the exceptional circumstances under which Mr. Chen entered the U.S. embassy, we intend to work closely inside the U.S. government to fully ensure that our policies are consistent with our values,” he said.
Chen, who riled Chinese authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilizations under the “one-child” policy, fled house arrest on April 22 and sought refuge in the U.S. embassy where he demanded assurances on his freedom. U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke escorted Chen to the Chaoyang Hospital, where he was to receive medical treatment.
Chen could study university
On the way, the activist called his lawyer, Li Jinsong, who said Chen told him: “’I’m free. I’ve received clear assurances.’” Chen, 40, also received a call from U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom he thanked in Chinese for raising his case, a U.S. official said. Chen then told Clinton in halting English, “’I want to kiss you,’” the official said.
As part of the agreement that ended the fraught, behind-the-scenes standoff, U.S. officials said China agreed to let Chen receive a medical checkup and be reunited with his family at the hospital; his wife and two children joined him there in the afternoon. He would then be relocated to a safe place in China where he could study at university, all demands activists said Chen had raised. Clinton, in a statement, said Chen’s exit from the embassy “reflected his choices and our values” and said the U.S. would monitor the assurances Beijing gave.
Chen’s case threatened to overshadow the annual meeting between leaders of the world’s two largest economies on key issues ranging from North Korea’s rocket launch to Syria.
Compiled from AFP and AP stories by the Daily News staff.