Will the White House hand Chen Guangcheng back to China?

Assuming it has Chen, it is inconceivable that the United States would turn him over to the Chinese authorities against his wishes, said current and former U.S. officials.

That leaves China with a choice – let the broader relationship suffer in a standoff with the United States, or seek a compromise, a scenario analysts, current and former officials saw as probable though by no means certain.

“I can’t imagine they will tank the relationship,” said a senior Obama administration official who spoke on condition that he not be identified. “This isn’t the same as a spy plane incident or Tiananmen Square. I do think they will try to manage it.”…

The incident will form an unwelcome backdrop for the visit of the U.S. secretaries of state and treasury to Beijing for their Strategic and Economic Dialogue on Thursday and Friday.