Chinese Security Czar’s Plot to Discredit US in Chen Case

May 7, 2012 Updated: October 1, 2015
Security police prepare to evict reporters trying to see blind rights activist
Security police prepare to evict reporters trying to see blind rights activist Chen Guangcheng at the Chaoyang Hospital where Chen is receiving treatment, in Beijing on May 2. (AFP/GettyImages)

After Chinese dissident lawyer Chen Guangcheng announced his decision to go to the United States to study, the dust seemed to have settled on the diplomatic challenges created by Chen’s daring escape from house arrest. However, an editorial published by the Chinese Communist Party newspaper the Global Times on May 5, declared victory for domestic security chief Zhou Yongkang and humiliation for the United States. It is possible that Zhou tricked the Americans, including President Barack Obama, Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, and Ambassador to China Gary Locke.

As chief of the domestic security apparatus, the Political and Legislative Affairs Committee (PLAC), Zhou is a powerful man who controls all aspects of law enforcement in China.

Chen spent six days with U.S. diplomats while tense negotiations were carried out. The Chinese foreign ministry angrily accused Washington of interfering in Chinese affairs, and no doubt it was communicated that Chen’s family might suffer the consequences.

Finally, it was announced that Chen would be delivered to a hospital in Beijing to have the injuries he sustained during his escape treated. Chen agreed fearing for his wife’s safety. The regime promised Washington that Chen and his family would be kept safe and Ambassador Locke personally escorted Chen to the hospital, where his wife and children were waiting.

Everything was orchestrated exactly as Zhou wanted it.

Once in hospital, Chen was able to successfully call people Zhou wanted him to contact: those who advised him to leave China. However, when he called American officials or friends who might encourage him to stay in China, the calls would not go through.

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Meanwhile, Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, was not permitted to leave the hospital and American officials were not allowed to enter the hospital. Chen’s family was in effect under house arrest again. Consequently, Chen said he felt he had been cheated by Communist Party officials and abandoned by the United States. In fact, Chen had been a victim of Zhou’s plot.

Then, Chen and his wife made the decision to leave China and study in the United States. Zhou decided the time was ripe for CNN to interview the couple. Chen’s emotion and the anger he showed while announcing his decision was reported by CNN and spread around the globe. The report triggered harsh criticism of the United States from the international community.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said on May 4 that Chen is a Chinese citizen and therefore can apply to study abroad “according to the laws.” The message to the world is that China is a country that practices rule of law.

With Zhou in control in the background, Chen was given the opportunity to announce his decision to accept an open invitation from New York University. His application for a student visa was thus a fait accompli. This tactic was designed to preempt Chen from applying for political asylum, something he might have tried to negotiate if he had more time.

The editorial by the Global Times on May 5 disdained and mocked the United States, effectively declaring victory for Zhou while conveying threats to other human rights activists like Chen.

The article said, “We believe the outcome for Chen to leave China and go to the United States for study is harmless for himself and for Chinese society.”

It intentionally ignored Chen’s efforts over the last decade to fight for human rights and why he fled house arrest. It also failed to mention that Chen has always said he wants to dedicate himself to seeing rule of law in China, not dedicate himself to studying abroad.

When Chen escaped, he publicly exposed the brutality of the local PLAC and said he would not leave China. Even now, Chen has made it clear that he will go abroad only to rest temporarily and he intends to come back.

The Global Times said, “When it comes to protecting personal freedom, there is not much difference between China and the United States. Chen’s case was deadlocked in the past largely because it involved social order. However, when personal freedom is the only concern, it is a lot easier to solve the problem.” The implication is that the U.S. government is no different than the Chinese Communist regime in putting national interest before human rights.

The headline of the article reads, “Don’t use fundamental values to analyze a basic grassroots dispute.” What it calls a “grassroots dispute” is the torture Chen suffered at the hands of local law enforcement officials in his hometown in Shandong Province. Chen exposed the gross corruption in his case that was cloaked under the banner of “maintaining stability.” Using the law to resolve this grassroots dispute was one of the three demands that Chen made to Premier Wen Jiabao in his video appeal for help. The title of the editorial should remind people that the crimes committed by Zhou and the PLAC are inexcusable.

The Global Times’ article is very deceptive. It ignored Chen’s genuine ideals and his demand for an investigation of the PLAC—something Zhou would never want to see.

It turned Chen’s case into the private matter of an individual wishing to study abroad and blurred the moral principles that the United States upholds. It also diverted people’s attention and created the false impression that Chen is able to study abroad “according to the law.”

Read the original Chinese article.

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