The saga of Chinese democracy and pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng will conclude today with a much happier ending than first feared. The New York Times reports than Chen has boarded a flight to the US and is already in transit — along with his family:
Chen Guangcheng, the blind legal defender who made a dramatic escape from house arrest and whose decision to seek refuge in the American Embassy here jolted American-Sino relations, left China aboard a commercial flight bound for Newark on Saturday.
Mr. Chen and his family departed around 5:30 p.m. on a United Airlines flight after facing earlier delays. The Chens, accompanied by American officials, were brought onto the plane shortly before takeoff and seated in the business-class cabin. Flight attendants drew a curtain around their seats and barred other passengers in the cabin from using the toilet while the plane was on the runway.
In a statement, American officials obliquely praised the Chinese government for its cooperation in resolving what had become a diplomatic headache for both sides. “We also express our appreciation for the manner in which we were able to resolve this matter and to support Mr. Chen’s desire to study in the U.S. and pursue his goals,” Victoria Nuland, a State Department spokeswoman said.
Speaking by cellphone before he boarded the flight, Mr. Chen told friends he was excited to leave China but that he was also worried about the fate of relatives left behind. “He’s happy to finally have a rest after seven years of suffering, but he’s also worried they will suffer some retribution,” said Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, a Christian advocacy group in Texas that championed Mr. Chen’s case.
Sometimes lost in this story is that Chen ran afoul of Beijing’s Communist government on more than just democracy, as Life News reminds us:
After a second Congressional hearing, during which he called to update members of Congress on the current status of his tenuous situation in China, forced abortion opponent Chen Guangcheng has finally been granted his visa request to leave China for the United States.
Chen had languished in a Chinese hospital since American officials reportedly agreed to a deal with Chinese leaders to allow Chen to come to the United States to study and escape the nation that imprisoned him and forced him to endure house arrest for years because he exposed and helped the victims of a massive forced abortion and sterilization campaign in his hometown of Linyi.
Some people are born in America. Some others are born to be American. Chen Guangcheng is, in that real sense, coming home. It’s good news for him and for us, but hopefully at some time everyone else in China will have the same freedoms that Chen and his family will shortly enjoy.