Analysts Find Blind Chinese Lawyer’s Escape Significant

April 30, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
outspoken government critic Hu Jia (R) sharing a light moment with blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng
This undated photo shows outspoken government critic Hu Jia (R) sharing a light moment with blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng after Chen's escape, at an undisclosed location in Beijing. (STR/AFP/GettyImages)

Blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng’s escape from house arrest to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing has been called a miracle by Chinese netizens. It may end the career of a high level communist official.

Former Chongqing Public Security Chief Wang Lijun’s attempt to defect at the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu on Feb. 6 led to the fall of former political star Bo Xilai. Many China analysts believe that Chen’s audacious escape on April 22 will bring down Zhou Yongkang. Zhou is the head of China’s domestic security apparatus, the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), which controls all aspects of law enforcement in China. The PLAC has a 2012 budget of over 700 billion yuan (USD$100 billion) for what the regime calls “stability maintenance.”

Hong Kong’s Apple Daily reported that Chen planned his escape for over two months. Previously, Chen tried to dig a tunnel to escape but was discovered. For a long time, he stayed in bed during the day, pretending to be sick, and the guards around his house eventually relaxed their vigilance. At night Chen practiced wall climbing. He was alert to every move made by the guards at night.

“When Chen finally escaped on the night of April 22, he climbed over the first wall in the ten seconds it took a guard to fetch water. He went through seven barriers, crossed a river, and stumbled and fell over one hundred times, injuring his leg and getting covered with mud. Chen contacted activist He Peirong who picked Chen up and drove him to Beijing,” Teng Biao, a well-known Beijing human rights lawyer said in a Tweet. According to Teng, it took the guards four days to realize that Chen was missing.

Renowned human rights lawyer Hu Jia met with Chen in Beijing on April 27. He told Sound of Hope (SOH) Radio Networks on April 28 that Chen was at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

“The minute we saw each other he gave me a good hug. Then we kept calling each other ‘brother, brother.’ We burst into tears because we were so excited,” Hu said.

ChinaAid, a Christian human rights organization, reported on April 28 that Chen is under United States protection, with American and Chinese officials discussing Chen’s status.

ChinaAid president Bob Fu said he believed that He Peirong, the activist who helped Chen escape, has been arrested at her home in Nanjing. “We were on the phone on the morning of April 27 when she said that Domestic Security police had arrived. Then we lost contact. Presumably she has been arrested.”

Earlier, He Peirong had sent a Twitter message saying, “I will not go into hiding and will stay in my home.” She also said that Chen had said he wanted to keep living in his home, and he wants freedom and justice.

The Epoch Times called He’s cell phone several times, but was unable to connect.

Bob Fu said Chen’s brother Chen Guangfu has been arrested and security guards were surrounding Chen Guangfu’s home. Chen’s nephew Chen Kegui is on the run, according to Fu.

Members of Chen’s family said that in 2006 many of Chen’s relatives were arrested and beaten, and some were detained for three to six months. Chen’s relatives asked not to be identified in this article.

In mid-September 2011, a group of Chinese organized a campaign called “Free Chen Guangcheng” and unsuccessfully attempted to visit Chen in his hometown in Dongshigu Village in Shandong Province. Many were beaten or arrested.

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Several China experts said that domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang should take responsibility for persecuting Chen and his family, and for allocating resources to block people from visiting Chen. Zhou is a member of the all-powerful ruling Politburo Standing Committee, and one of the country’s nine most powerful political leaders. Chen’s escape and flight to the U.S. Embassy is a huge embarrassment for the Communist Party and for Zhou as it exposes the abuse of justice under his leadership in the PLAC. It is an incident of extraordinary significance.

The Chinese Communist regime has persecuted many dissidents and religious followers under the banner of maintaining stability, and Zhou is in charge of all these, Bob Fu told New York-based New Tang Dynasty Television.

“The case against Chen’s family is an example of the widespread persecution of hundreds of thousands of innocent people who may have suffered even more than Chen did,” Fu said.

Some analysts said they felt that the timing of the Chen incident was opportune for Party leader Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao to take down the troublesome and powerful Zhou Yongkang with the attention of the international community being focused on the Party’s intense power struggle right now.

Current-affairs commentator Shi Da pointed out that Chen revealed to the world that the domestic security apparatus turns police into gangsters who rampantly torture innocent people. “Hu and Wen can no longer cover this up, and they have to bring Zhou to the foreground,” Shi told SOH.

According to political commentator Li Tianxiao, Hu and Wen need the people’s support to take down Zhou. Li said Chen has many supporters in China and abroad, so this is a God-sent opportunity for Hu and Wen to take action against Zhou.

“Responding to Chen’s call for an investigation can serve as a good initiative for Hu and Wen to launch a thorough investigation of Zhou and the PLAC, thereby eventually removing Zhou for good,” Li said.