A tale of two embassies

posted at 2:41 pm on May 4, 2012 by J.E. Dyer

Are liberty and the right to intellectual freedom – including free speech – on “the right side of history”?  I’m increasingly unsure how the Obama administration would answer that question.  I’m even a little unsure how the American public would answer it.  The latest and most disturbing case in point is the handling of the situation with Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who was escorted out of the US embassy in Beijing this week and left in the hands of the Chinese authorities.

Chen, who is blind, was transported to the US embassy on 22 April by well-wishers in China, barely escaping pursuit by authorities.  To secure his departure from the embassy compound, the US agreed to a deal with China by which Chen and his family, who have been tortured and subjected to a brutal form of house arrest for seven years, would be allowed to live, undetained, near a university where Chen could pursue academic studies.  No information has been released as to how the features of that deal would be verified.

Chen reportedly made the decision to leave the embassy when he was told by American personnel that his wife would be beaten by authorities if he did not give himself up.  Chen is in a Chinese hospital, in an extremely vulnerable position, and has been making appeals through the foreign media for help for him and his family.  He has now officially requested asylum of the United States.

Embassies do not make a practice of publicly spiriting asylum-seekers out of host nations, although the embassies of a number of nations, including the US, have quietly assisted over the years in getting asylum-seekers to safety.  During the Cold War, there were official procedures for handling the issue in US embassies and consulates.  Nevertheless, in a publicized case inside the country the dissident seeks to leave, the embassy will not, during normal peacetime relations, take him out of the country by force majeure.

What the embassy can do, however, is offer refuge to the dissident.  The grounds of the US embassy, anywhere in the world, are sovereign US territory.  And what the United States can do is put pressure not on the dissident, but on the dictatorial communist government, to allow Chen and his family to be reunited, and to travel abroad if that’s what they want to do.  Such pressure is more effective when the US has the dissident in safety, and is clearly going to withstand any pressure to give him back to a government that has been torturing and imprisoning him for his beliefs.

The US can put a spotlight on the dissident’s plight, and ensure that the world is watching anything the communist authorities do to his family.  More than that, the president can make it a personal priority to see the dissident released into a safe situation – abroad, if necessary or desired – and a promising future.

How do we know a president and his embassies can do this?  Because it’s what was done by two presidents – Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan – for two Russian Pentecostal Christian families in the former Soviet Union. 

On 27 July, 1978, two Pentecostal families from Chernogorsk, in Siberia, burst into the US embassy in Moscow, seeking American help to leave the country.  They had been attempting to emigrate from the USSR for as much as 20 years (in the case of one of their number), which had resulted only in more assiduous oppression by the Soviet authorities.

Of President Carter, we may say that he did at least the minimum by allowing the Pentecostals to remain in the embassy (where they eventually lived for five years).  There is an interesting echo of the accounts of embassy pressure on Chen in this exchange in October 1978 between Carter and the press (view it here in the papers of the Carter administration):

Q.  Mr. President, a family of Russian Pentecostals, the Vaschenkos, are seeking asylum and are lodged in the U.S. Embassy in Moscow.  They said in letters that have been smuggled out that the embassy is bringing subtle, emotional pressure to expel them into the hands of the Russians, probably at great risk.  Did you direct the embassy to seek their ouster, or are you willing to give them asylum and visas?

The President.  They are Russian citizens, as you know, and have been in the embassy in the Soviet Union, in Moscow, the American Embassy, for months.  We have provided them a place to stay.  We provided them a room to live in, even though this is not a residence with normal quarters for them.  I would presume that they have no reason to smuggle out correspondence to this country since they have the embassy officials’ ability to transmit messages.  I have not directed the embassy to discharge them from the embassy, no.

Reagan had a more proactive approach, one remembered and affirmed by others in later years.  His concern for those suffering persecution in the communist world was genuine and passionate.  Kiron Skinner wrote about Reagan’s intervention with Soviet authorities – including direct appeals to Leonid Brezhnev and Yuri Andropov – in his 2007 book Turning Points in Ending the Cold War.  (See excerpts from pp. 103-4 here.)  According to Skinner:

By the summer of 1983, at the height of the Cold War chill, Reagan and Andropov had privately worked out the details of the Pentecostals’ release from the U.S. Embassy in Moscow and the families were allowed to leave the country.  As Secretary [of State George] Schultz writes in his memoir, “This was the first successful negotiation with the Soviets in the Reagan administration.”  Schultz further notes, “Reagan’s own role in it had been crucial.”

Skinner recounts further the release of well-known dissident Natan Sharansky in 1986 (then known, before his emigration to Israel, as Anatoly Scharansky), as well as Reagan’s advocacy for the Pentecostals and the army of intellectual dissidents in the Soviet Union on his radio program in the 1970s.

Jimmy Carter may have sounded grudging about his government’s support to the Pentecostals, but he was president in a time when Americans did not doubt that communist governments were brutally oppressive, and that helping their embattled citizens, however diplomatically discordant it might be, was simply the right thing to do.  We were prepared at different levels of government to deal with the possibility, because we knew what state collectivism was, and we knew that people would seek help to get away from it.

The preparedness was not universal, of course.  A Soviet sailor who leaped from his freighter – twice – as it sat pierside in a Louisiana port in 1985, hoped to obtain asylum in the US, but was turned back over to his Soviet superiors by two US Border Patrol agents.  (The freighter was loading grain, which the US was selling the USSR to relieve the suffering of the Soviet people, incident to their 67th annual crop failure since the 1917 revolution.)  The State Department became involved only after the sailor had been handed back over to the ship’s master, and although the interpreter who conveyed his wishes to the Border Patrol agents had been clear that Miroslav Medvid was seeking asylum, Time described what followed in this manner:

When the State Department belatedly learned of the incident 13 hours afterward, it persuaded Soviet officials to let Medvid be interviewed. He was examined and questioned by State Department representatives as well as by the Navy doctor and Air Force psychiatrist, both of whom concluded that he was not under the influence of drugs and was competent to decide what he wanted to do. While his ship’s skipper, its doctor and two Soviet diplomats watched, Medvid insisted that he had merely fallen overboard and had no intention of deserting.

The psychiatrist, however, said the evidence showed that Medvid had jumped “purposefully from his ship” and that when he was returned to it, he “probably felt very afraid of the consequences and very much trapped in a corner.” The Soviets apparently threatened to retaliate against the sailor’s family at home, and he became “rather guilty at having jeopardized their safety,” the psychiatrist theorized. The State Department ruled that he could not be held against his expressed wishes and let him return to the Konev.

There are parallels with the Chen situation in just about every previous instance of refuge-seeking by the oppressed from communist nations.  Of all the arms of the US government that ought still to be attuned to the likelihood of these cases, the US embassy in Beijing would seem to be at the top of the list.  The key difference today appears to be the basic posture of the US government.  As regards China specifically, we should not pin that exclusively on the Obama administration.  There has very much been an attitude for the last 20 years that, with the Cold War over, it is outdated to see China through the human-rights lens of the Cold War.

When China proves clearly just how apposite that Cold War lens still is, it may be that a US administration is caught flat-footed.  The “tactical” particulars of the situation – Chen’s unexpected arrival at the embassy, the publicity, and his family’s peril in the hands of the Chinese authorities – meant that the embassy could not easily pursue a quiet plan to help his whole family leave the country.

But that is the sort of tactically inconvenient situation that is likely to arise with people in great trouble.  If we don’t see China, from a strategic perspective, as a source of such situations, we won’t be operationally prepared for them.

Once they do happen, a US administration has discretion over how it responds, and on that head, the Obama administration deserves criticism.  The whole world knows the peril Chen and his family are in.  The right approach here is not to seek a “solution” that gets the governments of China and the US off the hook; it’s to stand by Chen and demand that he be treated with the respect for his rights understood in the Helsinki Accords.  While China is not a signatory to the Accords, their standard for freedom, travel and emigration, and reunification of families is the touchstone to be invoked in this instance.

If we do not believe that, enough to stand up for it when it is inconvenient to our other diplomatic plans, then there was little point in winning the Cold War.  Indeed, if our fear of angering China is greater than our commitment to the freedoms Chen Guangcheng is relying on us to defend, then we didn’t win the Cold War after all.

J.E. Dyer’s articles have appeared at The Green Room, Commentary’s “contentions,Patheos, The Weekly Standard online, and her own blog, The Optimistic Conservative.

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it’s not correct to say (and it’s a common misconception),

The grounds of the US embassy, anywhere in the world, are sovereign US territory.

The grounds of the embassy are, in fact, the territory of the nation in which they are situate, it’s just that the laws of the territory in which they are situate do generally not apply (without the consent of both countries-with some limited exceptions). Otherwise, interesting and informative article.

Mark on May 4, 2012 at 2:48 PM

Here’s a thought.

How many people over the past decades have risked life and limb, safety of families, to stop at nothing to come to America?

How many have risked life and limb, safety of families, to stop at nothing to go to China? Russia? Iran? Syria? Cuba? Burma? Saudi Arabia? North Korea? Just to name a few.

What is so special about the United States of America that drives people to risk it all to come here?

When we as a nation begin to look, act, be like those countries…

A real slap in the face of those who came before, don’t ya think?

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM

The USSR was never our banker overlord. Turbo Timmy and Hillary need more bucks to keep the squirrel cage turning. It is a simple equation.

a capella on May 4, 2012 at 2:50 PM

He has now officially requested asylum of the United States.

Really? That’s completely at odds with the Telegraph article currently linked in the HA headlines.

‘Speaking to Guo Yushan, one of the activists who helped him escape from house arrest, Mr Chen said he did not want asylum in the United States, but merely to be allowed to study for a few months at New York University.

”He feels very sorry for the pressure he brought to US embassy,” wrote Mr Guo on Twitter.

“First, Guangcheng never told the media that he wants to seek political asylum. He only said he wants to rest for several months in the US, and he has the invitation letter of New York University. Since he is a free man, now he wants to tour for sometime in US and then come back.”

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM

How many have risked life and limb, safety of families, to stop at nothing to go to China?

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 2:49 PM

Plenty of North Koreans ;)

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM

What did Chen expect from a State Department that was so incompetent and pathetic that they couldn’t even accurately translate one simple word from English to Russian (a language we have been spying in for over half a century) for a major (if totally stupid) diplomatic presentation to the only nation that could physically annihilate the US?

One would think that Chen would also understand that an administration chock full of Maoists wouldn’t be the ones to turn to for help getting away from the Maoists the administration idolizes.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM

It’s so amazing that ONE Chinese dissident can lead to so much news, the the violations of civil and human rights HERE in America go on:

The most egregious human rights issues that have gripped Indian Country over the last decade include the taking of ones citizenship; the denial of basic rights and freedoms; and the severing of spiritual and cultural ties to ones people and land.
In place of actual physical genocide, acts such as disenrollment, banishment and the denial of citizenship are “killing off” generations of Indian people

Apartheid/Segregation is practice in the People’s Republic of CA:

originalpechanga on May 4, 2012 at 2:56 PM

One positive trait Romney has over the primary also-runners, as I see it, is his anti-Chinese attitude. Islam can and will be tamed when the shroud of political correctness is lifted from our eyes, the Russians can settle for regional powerhouse status, but China is the real enemy, and I want my future President to understand it.

Archivarix on May 4, 2012 at 3:02 PM

Why are the pubblies getting their pink thongs in a twist over this guy? What happened to the closed borders and out with the hispanics campaign?

Oh i see, you all are interested because this appears to be a foreign policy kerfuffle for Barry.

Uppereastside on May 4, 2012 at 3:11 PM

The grounds of the US embassy, anywhere in the world, are sovereign US territory.

Watched too many Hollywood flicks, J.E.?

Otherwise, good post.

Norwegian on May 4, 2012 at 3:12 PM

Blah blah blah blah blah. Whine whine whine whine.

Chinese said they’re gonna beat his family to death, he left the embassy. In the mean time Obama admin got the Chinese to let him leave the country.

End of story.

PS: Obama, getting work done while the GOP whines.

lester on May 4, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Uppereastside on May 4, 2012 at 3:11 PM

Differentiating between legal and illegal immigration has always been hard for you, hasn’t it?

a capella on May 4, 2012 at 3:19 PM

If we do not believe that, enough to stand up for it when it is inconvenient to our other diplomatic plans, then there was little point in winning the Cold War. Indeed, if our fear of angering China is greater than our commitment to the freedoms Chen Guangcheng is relying on us to defend, then we didn’t win the Cold War after all.

The same can be said about Iran. Obama did more to advance Osama’s plans than anyone could have conceived.

PS: Obama, Freedom pressuring Obama to getting (some) work done while the GOP lester whines.

lester on May 4, 2012 at 3:16 PM

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:20 PM

Differentiating between legal and illegal immigration has always been hard for you, hasn’t it?

a capella on May 4, 2012 at 3:19 PM

…and for sesqup.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM

but China is the real enemy, and I want my future President to understand it.

Archivarix on May 4, 2012 at 3:02 PM

How exactly is China the real enemy of America? I don’t see any evidence from history that China has any desire to do anything but live and let live when it comes to relations with America.

I know you’ve clearly expressed a dislike for certain ethnic groups in previous comments on HotAir. Maybe what makes you see China as the enemy is that fact that its global power is on the ascent and most of its population is of a different ethnic background than yourself?

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM

I called this some time ago, because Chen Guangcheng is pro-life. He’s fighting forced abortions and forced sterilization.

Sound familiar to you? It should.

BigGator5 on May 4, 2012 at 3:22 PM

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Game. set. match.

You are goood.

[Dammit!]

Ok…other than North Koreans trying to get out of North Korea.

Goin’ after the gwailo…*&!@!!@#!!

:-)

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:24 PM

‘Speaking to Guo Yushan, one of the activists who helped him escape from house arrest, Mr Chen said he did not want asylum in the United States, but merely to be allowed to study for a few months at New York University.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Yeah, right. What will Chen study at NYU? He can’t speak English at all. What program is a few months long? Executive MBA? He is not a lawyer, he said he taught himself law. He had never attended school beyond high school in the rural area,

He is now saying he is worried about the safety of his parents and his brothers and sisters. So the US is supposed to take the whole family? What about his friends and cousins?

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 3:26 PM

We gave up our right to dispute China on human rights once we went so far into debt to them that one more tap from the shovel and we see daylight from the other side of the world.

Sad, but true.

Neither a borrower nor lender be.
-B. Franklin

cane_loader on May 4, 2012 at 3:26 PM

I haven’t read all the threads but my take is that the US Embassy (under direction from “higher authorities”) didn’t want Chen “interfering with” the upcoming talks and more importantly “stealing the spotlight” from the Obama Administration efforts in China—so they scared him into leaving the US Embassy with tales of possible family torture.

Now Chen is the ONLY STORY!!!!

MaiDee on May 4, 2012 at 3:28 PM

The most egregious human rights issues that have gripped Indian Country over the last decade include the taking of ones citizenship; the denial of basic rights and freedoms; and the severing of spiritual and cultural ties to ones people and land.
In place of actual physical genocide, acts such as disenrollment, banishment and the denial of citizenship are “killing off” generations of Indian people

originalpechanga on May 4, 2012 at 2:56 PM

I am sure Professor Spreading Bulls had repeatedly addressed that.

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 3:29 PM

How exactly is China the real enemy of America? I don’t see any evidence from history that China has any desire to do anything but live and let live when it comes to relations with America.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM

I’d point to the effort put into espionage and theft of U.S. military secrets, as fairly significant evidence. And, their activity on the U.N. Security council.

a capella on May 4, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Oh i see, you all are interested because this appears to be a foreign policy kerfuffle for Barry.

Uppereastside on May 4, 2012 at 3:11 PM

No, it’s because his life and his family’s are in dire danger. Read up on asylum laws, you leftie fool. Your kind are the most cruel people on Earth, while claiming to be truly liberal and progressive. You are anything but.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:30 PM

Obama hates blind people. War on Blind People. War on the Chinese. War on blind Chinese. War on differently visualed.

Smedley on May 4, 2012 at 3:32 PM

…Hillary Clinton…is no Jean Kirkpatrick!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 3:32 PM

Yeah, right. What will Chen study at NYU? He can’t speak English at all. What program is a few months long? Executive MBA? He is not a lawyer, he said he taught himself law. He had never attended school beyond high school in the rural area,

He is now saying he is worried about the safety of his parents and his brothers and sisters. So the US is supposed to take the whole family? What about his friends and cousins?

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 3:26 PM

I don’t have any clue what he’ll study or how. He was apparently invited by NYU and the government of China says he can go. That’s what’s reported in the article HA linked.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:33 PM

…Hillary Clinton…is no Jean Kirkpatrick!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 3:32 PM

But she is Al bright.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:33 PM

How exactly is China the real enemy of America? I don’t see any evidence from history that China has any desire to do anything but live and let live when it comes to relations with America.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:21 PM

You’re a nice guy but naive on this, sadly. Utopia is dangerous.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM

China does not want to get into a global nuclear war with the United States, despite what Mao said about how easily China could absorb over two-hundred million dead..

It is a different China.

And it has a much smarter, worldly-wise leadership.

Why fight us when they can more easily buy us one Walmart sale at a time, one pair of Nike’s at a time.

Being owned by China got its kick-start in the 1990′s, and there are more than 300 million Chinese [more than our own population] who are a lot better off in China today because we so willingly replaced “made in Japan” with “made in China.”

China knows this.

Seems we have not caught on.

The new Chinese hegemony will be purely economic all across Asia, all across the America’s, all across Africa…and there is little we can do in our present state to prevent that.

The Russians bluster and say they’ll blow up offending NATO sites….and we cower.

China, simply gives us another couple dollars to head down to the store to buy “made in China” products.

Smart cookies, those Chinese.

Just don’t make them look bad…to other countries or to their own citizens.

They might call in some of their markers.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM

I don’t have any clue what he’ll study or how. He was apparently invited by NYU and the government of China says he can go. That’s what’s reported in the article HA linked.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Face saving is what it’s all about, no more, no less, for both goons who run their current governments.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:36 PM

The whole dance about Chen coming to “study” in the US is a convenient way to allow Hilary to get out of China without meeting with him, which would embarrass the ChiComs. The matter will be allowed to die down in the press, whereupon he will be confined again, somewhere.

On Biden’s recent trip, a relatively high-level Party official came to the Embassy requesting asylum, but was turned over to ChiCom security forces and has not been heard from again.

To the Obama regime, “human rights” is all talk – unless it is the “rights” of islamic extremists in question.

Adjoran on May 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM

Indeed, the idiots are in the U.S., from the government, from the left to the right, to the morons who don’t understand all this.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:38 PM

Adjoran on May 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Biden and Obama have blood on their hands on that one, and might yet on this case too.

Lefties are never truly liberal or progressive. Look all over the ME, beginning with Iran.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:39 PM

Chinese said they’re gonna beat his family to death, he left the embassy. In the mean time Obama admin got the Chinese to let him leave the country.

End of story.

PS: Obama, getting work done while the GOP whines.

lester on May 4, 2012 at 3:16 PM

1) The Chinese don’t admit to saying they’d beat his family.
2) The US officials don’t claim the Chinese said they’d beat his family.
3) He didn’t hear they’d beat his family from Chinese officials.

*) A US OFFICIAL told him if he didn’t leave the embassy right then his family would be killed… so yes he left.

This is good work? Lying to a human rights protestor to get him to go back to the government that had kidnapped and was oppressing him and violating his rights?

Oooh, but now he gets to leave for schooling.

Tell me, is that leaving with his family? Or are we leaving his family to be killed if he steps out of line?

However, officials declined to give a timetable for the Chen family’s departure, or to say whether they had received firm assurances from the Chinese government that no further obstacles would be put in their way.

http://www.rfa.org/english/news/china/study-05042012081610.html

Oops, sorry; worrying about the wife and children being put to death is “whining” now. I’m sorry for “whining” about Obama’s brilliant plan that may end up with the wife and children put to death.

When did the torturing of innocent women and children become not only acceptable, but the sort of thing that liberals would call whining” on if you disagreed with their plan?

Or did you mean something else by “whining”. Any guesses how this works once the media spotlight is off of China?

gekkobear on May 4, 2012 at 3:41 PM

Adjoran on May 4, 2012 at 3:37 PM

Came to the Consulate in Shanghai last February, as I recall.

But, yes, Wang Lijun entered the consulate and was then turned over to Chinese Security forces…and never seen again.

And Biden overruled both State and the Agency…would raise a kerfluffle or something…ruin Biden’s visit.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:42 PM

I’d point to the effort put into espionage and theft of U.S. military secrets, as fairly significant evidence. And, their activity on the U.N. Security council.

a capella on May 4, 2012 at 3:29 PM

Yep.

And the way they have repeatedly screwed us over with North Korea. The claims (not made here, but you hear them often) that China is “scared” of North Koreans streaming into China makes me laugh. China has been using North Korea to harass the US and the West and has made a real mess of a lot of stuff through that insane policy.

The one saving grace is that China has never been expansionist in its history (not when it was ruled by Chinese). The Chinese have always very much preferred to keep to themselves and block the world out rather than try to conquer it. It goes to the Chinese culture and their crippling fear of chaos and need for stability above all else. The first project the Chinese did upon unification was to build a wall to keep the world out and the Chinese (who were property of the emperor) in.

However, now that we are ALL moving into space, it is a very different world and Chinese behavior in this new realm cannot be predicted in any way, but the way Chinese policy has been going does NOT give comfort (even with China’s history of staying in their borders).

China has been sticking their finger in our eye for decades (since we started talking to them again). They have done as much to us as they are able and do more the minute they have the ability. They are untrustworthy and stand in opposition to American interests for pretty much everything.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 3:44 PM

I’d point to the effort put into espionage and theft of U.S. military secrets, as fairly significant evidence. And, their activity on the U.N. Security council.

a capella on May 4, 2012 at 3:29 PM

We also spy on China as I’m sure you know.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:47 PM

I may be the sole dissenter here. I can understand why a country as overpopulated as China has instituted an “One Child Policy”. (Think about the overcrowded life boat). It is supposedly being applied uniformly. Family are supposed to practice birth control. But in the very distorted sexist culture there exists in China, some irresponsible families defy the policy, or selectively abort the female babies because of the ridiculous male preference.

Chen already has 2 children and he chose to fight the social contract. I read that the number of forced abortion is actually a lot less than the dissenters abroad claimed. (200?) And I think that there is the option to have the second child adopted out to people who are childless or from abroad and was refused. ( The forced abortion were on male babies ?) If you go to the Yahoo site in Hong Kong, posters there are not all that sympathetic to him.

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 3:49 PM

We also spy on China as I’m sure you know.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:47 PM

The Chinese don’t have anything to steal.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

You’re a nice guy but naive on this, sadly. Utopia is dangerous.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:35 PM

I certainly understand China and the US are competitors and see themselves as such. I just don’t think China wants to take any big fight to America.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

But, yes, Wang Lijun entered the consulate and was then turned over to Chinese Security forces…and never seen again.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:42 PM

That’s what makes this story about Chen stink. You have thousands of political/human rights advocates in China who disappear. Yet, Chen is 24/7 news and can even call into our Congress. Hell, I can’t call into our Congress, how did he?

If he’s allowed to leave China, I think he’ll fit right in at NYU.

moonsbreath on May 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

I just don’t think China wants to take any big fight to America.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

It’s coming over Taiwan, for sure.

And I think you underestimate the nature of communist parties. Commie governments might go into quiet periods, but that doesn’t take away from the very twisted foundation the government is built on. They are still commies and that is very, very dangerous – whether they intend it now or not – and they do intend it now, anyway.

Commie governments are like wild animals that cannot be domesticated. They can be trained, but in a split moment they revert right back to their wild state and leave the people who thought “what a cute bobcat” bleeding to death over nothing.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 3:55 PM

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:47 PM

For decades I have observed that China is a lot better at it than the Soviets/Russians. Not as good as Markus Wolf’s East German outfit, but much much better than the Russians.

Careful, directed, task oriented, thorough, and apparently quite disarming when dealing with all levels of the US government and military as well as private industry.

But, yes they do it and we do it…no morale equivalency hinted at all here, but an admission that nations engage in that, major nations in a major way.

But, China does honor one of the old unwritten rules…do not embarrass them…and they will not embarrass us…and if you have Chinese surveillance, you can go out and jog through the toughest of neighborhoods and be safe.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:55 PM

The Chinese don’t have anything to steal.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

We stole gunpowder and toilet paper.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:58 PM

We stole gunpowder and toilet paper.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:58 PM

And Dim sum. :-)

Can’t forget that. No Tortino’s Pizza Rolls, or chicken nuggets, otherwise.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Liberals aren’t about Freedom. They are about control. Liberals lean towards totalitarianism. Liberals are for big central governments and against property rights.

jdun on May 4, 2012 at 4:03 PM

We stole gunpowder and toilet paper.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:58 PM

The Mongols did, not us. The Chinese weren’t using them right, anyway.

The Chinese had gunpowder, movable type, and a bunch of other absolutely fundamental inventions long before anyone else but no one ever heard about them from the Chinese. It was the Europeans who came up with these inventions hundreds of years later but spread them throughout the world. This is a consequence of what I stated above about Chinese need for stability. Progress (real progress, not lefty “progress”) is not a virtue in Chinese culture. They have never lacked the genius but their culture has never supported the exploitation, use and dissemination of Chinese inventions.

Crudely put, Western civilization is about growth and progress. Chinese civilization is about stability and order.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 4:04 PM

It’s coming over Taiwan, for sure.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 3:55 PM

By ‘Taiwan’ I suppose you mean the ROC-controlled regions of China. I’m sure you understand the ROC also claims sovereinty over all of the PRC-controlled regions, plus the currently independent nation of Mongolia.

If the US wants to stick its nose back into a decades-long stalemated Chinese civil war on behalf of one side I guess the other side would probably take exception.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Liberals Lefties aren’t about Freedom. They are about control. Liberals Lefties lean towards totalitarianism. Liberals Lefties are for big central governments and against property rights.

jdun on May 4, 2012 at 4:03 PM

They are never “liberal”; don’t call them that. You dishoner true liberalism and progressivism, liberty for all.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 4:08 PM

and if you have Chinese surveillance, you can go out and jog through the toughest of neighborhoods and be safe.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:55 PM

‘Benevolent’ dictatorships should never be trusted. They can drop the “benevolent” at a whim, or he can die.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 4:10 PM

They have never lacked the genius but their culture has never supported the exploitation, use and dissemination of Chinese inventions.

Crudely put, Western civilization is about growth and progress. Chinese civilization is about stability and order.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 4:04 PM

Neither really did the West until fairly recently. I’m not sure I understand your fundamental point though.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:11 PM

If the US wants to stick its nose back into a decades-long stalemated Chinese civil war on behalf of one side I guess the other side would probably take exception.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:08 PM

Now you’ve lost me. Taiwan were our allies and we (before Barky) were trustworthy allies. We have defense pacts with Taiwan which we are bound to honor. Further, the Taiwanese are capitalists, not commies.

We saved China for the commies to even have anything to take over.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 4:12 PM

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 2:55 PM

Game. set. match.

You are goood.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 3:24 PM

You two, good ones, that just says how horrific life is in N. Korea.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 4:12 PM

I just don’t think China wants to take any big fight to America.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 3:50 PM

She doesn’t have to, not that kind of a “fight”, yet.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 4:15 PM

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:08 PM

That 2010 trade agreement between the PRC and Taiwan/ROC seems to be working out.

Unless something stupid happens, I’d envision Taiwan/ROC following the Hong Kong model…eventually being absorbed by the PRC while having enough autonomy to be a long-term benefit to both.

Really do not think Beijing would like to see that screwed up. It took from 1949 to 2010 to get these guys to put ink to paper.

[Tiny little item, you did not read here...Beijing actually benefits from each new arms sale between the US and Taiwan.]

And the native Taiwanese are getting a bit tired of being an occupied “country” as well.

Not so simple anymore, is it?

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:19 PM

Neither really did the West until fairly recently. I’m not sure I understand your fundamental point though.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:11 PM

The Chinese brought nothing to the wider world. Chinese inventions weren’t even spread within China. Chinese inventions either had to be invented somewhere else or taken from the Chinese and spread.

And I wouldn’t call the Greeks or the Romans “fairly recent[]”.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 4:21 PM

My huangjiu bottle is dry. I should call it a night.

The breeze passes through the lotus flowers
All fragrance is the waterside pavilion.
The king of Wu is feasting on the Ku-su Tower.
Hsi-shih, the queen, flushed with wine, dances
She is fair and unresisting.
Now, smiling, she leans near the east window
Against a couch of white jade.

- Li Bai (李白), 751

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 4:10 PM

Just a commentary about the “benefits” of being posted to or being sent to a hard-target country.

Unless, of course, there was some sort of diplomatic thing going on and the local service wanted to send a strong message…then, there might be bruises.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM

We have defense pacts with Taiwan which we are bound to honor. Further, the Taiwanese are capitalists, not commies.

We saved China for the commies to even have anything to take over.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 4:12 PM

Three sentences and three mistakes. Let me just pick the first to highlight.

No we don’t. Check your sources.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:23 PM

Ming tian jan

did I get that right?

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:28 PM

No we don’t. Check your sources.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:26 PM

My mistake on the defense pact. What’s your problem with the other sentences? You think the Chinese aren’t commies or do you think the Taiwanese are? And you don’t think we saved China in WWII? Really?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 4:33 PM

Reagan had a more proactive approach,

Understatement.

When China proves clearly just how apposite that Cold War lens still is, it may be that a US administration is caught flat-footed.

Competent and lucid administrations/leaders are never caught “flat-footed”. This is just another show of incompetence and amateurism from the Obama administration.

kim roy on May 4, 2012 at 4:34 PM

Ming tian jan

did I get that right?

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:28 PM

‘mingtianjian’ (明天见). Pretty close. Within typo radius :)

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:35 PM

- Li Bai (李白), 751

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:23 PM

He was a much better poet than one Barry Soetoro.

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 4:35 PM

He has now officially requested asylum of the United States.

Really? That’s completely at odds with the Telegraph article currently linked in the HA headlines.

‘Speaking to Guo Yushan, one of the activists who helped him escape from house arrest, Mr Chen said he did not want asylum in the United States, but merely to be allowed to study for a few months at New York University.

”He feels very sorry for the pressure he brought to US embassy,” wrote Mr Guo on Twitter.

“First, Guangcheng never told the media that he wants to seek political asylum. He only said he wants to rest for several months in the US, and he has the invitation letter of New York University. Since he is a free man, now he wants to tour for sometime in US and then come back.”

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 2:52 PM

Considering the pressure that is being felt anyone remotely attached to this it’s no surprise that there is no clear statement.

Any bets on whether Mr. Chen would return to China once he sets foot on US soil?

These people will say anything at this point to please their overlords.

kim roy on May 4, 2012 at 4:37 PM

夜思

床前明月光
疑是地上霜
舉頭望明月
低頭思故鄉

This is the most famous poem of Li Bai.

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 4:39 PM

These people will say anything at this point to please their overlords.

kim roy on May 4, 2012 at 4:37 PM

Those cookie pushers over at State are like that, ya know. :-D

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:40 PM

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 4:39 PM

Would it hurt to give me just a little transliteration to work with?

Looks Greek Chinese to me.

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:42 PM

You think the Chinese aren’t commies or do you think the Taiwanese are? And you don’t think we saved China in WWII? Really?

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 4, 2012 at 4:33 PM

I don’t think China’s current economic system is actually very communist (though state-directed to a degree, and even though the ruling party is still called the ‘Communist Party’). The small ROC controlled parts of China don’t adhere to a strictly capitalist system either.

On your third point I suppose I could be persuaded to not object.

Now I’m off to dreams of Old Shanghai.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:50 PM

coldwarrior on May 4, 2012 at 4:42 PM

I’ll try, but the essence will be lost in translation. Note the structure of the poem. It is 5 characters for each line.

It roughly translate to:
The moonlight at the head of the bed gave an illusion of frost on the ground.
I raised my head to gaze at the moon, then bow my head and think of home.

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 4:53 PM

Now I’m off to dreams of Old Shanghai.

DarkCurrent on May 4, 2012 at 4:50 PM

I am impressed, not many know a long passed songstress like her and that classical song.

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 5:01 PM

Just a reminder that no matter how modern and a world leader China tries to think it is, there are no citizens of the United States or western Europe who are not able to speak out against their government and leave their country freely to travel abroad.

(If Obama gets re-elected I may have to amend that statement.)

albill on May 4, 2012 at 5:28 PM

For the lefties, by a leftie.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 5:29 PM

Reagan had a more proactive approach, one remembered and affirmed by others in later years. His concern for those suffering persecution in the communist world was genuine and passionate.

Ronald Reagan saw the world in terms of individuals. This is something that no Communist – liberal, or otherwise – can comprehend.

What is now perversely-named the “liberal” point of view is the opposite of that. Most of them will scream like stuck pigs when you call them “Communists.” But none of them can clearly define for you the difference between those two synonyms. He just sort of feels like he’s a better person than all the people who believed the same things he believes.

Anyone who sees the world in terms of collective rights is capable of literally anything. He is, for want of a better term, evil. He doesn’t just magically become evil the instant his hand twists the gas chamber valve. That transformation happened a long, long time ago.

logis on May 4, 2012 at 5:58 PM

…Hillary Clinton…is no Jean Kirkpatrick!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 3:32 PM

But she is Al bright.

Schadenfreude on May 4, 2012 at 3:33 PM

…forgot how bad she was!

KOOLAID2 on May 4, 2012 at 10:12 PM

I may be the sole dissenter here. I can understand why a country as overpopulated as China has instituted an “One Child Policy”. (Think about the overcrowded life boat). It is supposedly being applied uniformly. Family are supposed to practice birth control. But in the very distorted sexist culture there exists in China, some irresponsible families defy the policy, or selectively abort the female babies because of the ridiculous male preference.

Chen already has 2 children and he chose to fight the social contract. I read that the number of forced abortion is actually a lot less than the dissenters abroad claimed. (200?) And I think that there is the option to have the second child adopted out to people who are childless or from abroad and was refused. ( The forced abortion were on male babies ?) If you go to the Yahoo site in Hong Kong, posters there are not all that sympathetic to him.

galtani on May 4, 2012 at 3:49 PM

What’s ridiculous about a preference for male children? Men work and fight. Women cost money, require protection, and have babies, which only increases the vulnerability of the lifeboat. Even the ministrations of state socialism have yet to literally turn women into men.

Once you buy into the “China as a lifeboat” theme, you don’t get to pick and choose which survival-related preferences are ridiculous.

It will be an interesting form of survival that China has bought into with the one-child policy. Demographers are bearish on China, an assessment that Michael Zheng disputes with the following logic:

[Is] 4-2-1 phenomenon [that is, 4 grandparents, 2 parents, 1 child] making it impossible for the younger generation to support the two elder generations? This is just blindly interpreting China data with western mindset. Did Economist know that many of the parents in the middle “2″ seek employment, sometimes manual labour, after retirement so that they can support the “1″? The “2″ in the middle support both the older and the younger generation(s).

So there you have it: the solution to demographic decline. The middle generation works into its grave supporting both the elders and the younger.

Perhaps not worse than the Western solution of passing debt down through the generations — but certainly no better. Proof positive once again: the family, not the state, is the natural unit of civilization. Families pass the very legacy of civilization to their children. The state passes debt.

J.E. Dyer on May 5, 2012 at 11:30 AM

So there you have it: the solution to demographic decline. The middle generation works into its grave supporting both the elders and the younger.

That’s nothing new for China. Chinese used to (be forced to) work themselves literally into the Great Wall – the world’s largest grave. They’re used to it, there.

ThePrimordialOrderedPair on May 5, 2012 at 11:41 AM

J.E. Dyer on May 5, 2012 at 11:30 AM

The untold worst side effect of China’s one-child policy (and it’s infanticide of females) is that China has the largest and fastest growing male segment of population that has no prospect at all of being able to seek, let alone find, a mate…nor even a occasional dalliance.

Imagine what happens when you end up with a population of males, now larger than the total population of the United States, that have no prospect, shall we delicately call it, release?

Sexist?

Not at all.

Makes all of them ripe for recruitment…into fanaticism…fatalistic endeavors…combat.

coldwarrior on May 5, 2012 at 1:43 PM

coldwarrior on May 5, 2012 at 1:43 PM

Indeed, coldwarrior. It’s an invitation to nihilism, at the very least. “Release” is one thing, but men, like women, on average need the prospect of fatherhood and a legacy to be motivated and disciplined, especially in the tough times that befall all of us. There are always outliers with unusual personalities, but there’s a reason why married men with children are perennially at the top of the performance heap, in terms of economic success and life satisfaction.

China isn’t the only society in which our species’ strongest drive has been suppressed, with the result that interest in the future has plummeted to a dangerous extent. China’s just the only one that does it by official policy.

J.E. Dyer on May 5, 2012 at 2:21 PM