Tuesday, 1 May 2012

A Pawn Between China and the US

The Chen Guangcheng story has evolved quickly in the last few days with the upcoming Strategic and Economic Dialogue starting in Beijing later this week.

China and the United States are anxious to resolve Chen's situation quickly before these annual conversations begin and it is looking more and more like he and his family may go into exile in the US for "medical reasons".

This is bad timing on Chen's part, but he was desperate to get out; on the other hand China does not want to look like it is giving in to dissidents' demands particularly when he escaped from tight security around his home that apparently costs $10 million a month to maintain.

Going to the US isn't exactly what Chen wanted -- he was hoping to bargain his way into getting peace and security for his family. But China doesn't want him practicing law anymore, particularly when it comes to arming the grassroots with knowledge of the law.

Meanwhile Premier Wen Jiabao is abroad at the moment so he isn't even in the country to personally entertain Chen's demands, and besides, going to an embassy or consulate usually signals a last resort, not a means to an end.

So Chen may have miscalculated, and this will be a devastating reality for him.

He will probably not be able to champion human rights for people in China anymore, after being such an inspiration to so many people across the country.

But the persecution under house arrest was too much physically and mentally for him and his family.

These issues are so difficult to resolve under the circumstances that we can only hope the best intentions for Chen and his family will be of the utmost importance.

Now he is the pawn between two countries trying to figure out his fate.

Strategically this is not the best position for him to be in.

At least he made his voice heard but now he may be silenced for a long time.

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