Monday 18 December 2017

Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng makes dramatic phone call to congress asking to meet Hillary Clinton

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. Photo: Reuters
Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng. Photo: Reuters

THE Chinese human rights activist at the centre of a diplomatic row between the US and China makes a dramatic phone call to US congress asking to meet Hillary Clinton over fears for his safety.

In unusual scenes on Capitol Hill, Chen Guangcheng phoned a congressional hearing from his hospital bed in Beijing asking to come to the US and speak to Hillary Clinton.

Bob Fu from the human rights group ChinaAid held the mobile phone aloft on loudspeaker as he translated Mr Chen's requests from Mandarin into English.

The blind activist told the hearing, "I really am fearing for my family members' lives."

"The thing I'm most concerned with now is the safety of my mother and my brother. I really want to know what's going on with them."

He appealed directly to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is currently in the Chinese capital, asking for talks.

"I want to meet with Secretary Clinton. I hope I can get more help from her," he told Representative Chris Smith, who chaired the hearing as bemused witnesses and reporters looked on.

The US is scrambling to contain an escalating diplomatic row over Mr Chen, who angered Chinese authorities by exposing forced abortions and sterilisations under the country's "one-child" policy.

He escaped from house arrest after 19 months in April and sought refuge at the US embassy before leaving when Chinese authorities promised he and his family would be treated humanely.

But Mr Chen said he later changed his mind about remaining in China after his wife and children had allegedly been threatened by Chinese officials.

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