- The Washington Times - Sunday, May 6, 2012

The chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee is warning the State Department not to trust Chinese government promises to allow a blind dissident and his family to come to the United States.

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen urged U.S. diplomats in Beijing to keep up the pressure on Chinese officials to release Chen Guangcheng from a hospital and transfer him and his family into U.S. custody.

“Only when Mr. Chen arrives on American soil and is granted political asylum will we know that this issue is resolved and his freedom and safety are assured,” the Florida Republican said.

Mr. Chen on Sunday complained that Chinese officials are preventing him from meeting with U.S. diplomats to make arrangements for the transfer from Chaoyang Hospital, ringed by Chinese police, back to the U.S. Embassy.

Mr. Chen’s plight created a diplomatic crisis last week when Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner arrived in Beijing for talks with top-level officials. Mr. Chen had been granted refuge in the U.S. Embassy, and U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke was negotiating with Chinese authorities to transfer the dissident to a hospital for medical treatment.

Mr. Chen injured him foot when he escaped from house arrest in northeastern China last month. A self-taught lawyer, Mr. Chen had angered officials in Shandong province for exposing local abuses against women who violated China’s forced abortion law on one-child families.

Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen criticized U.S. diplomats who allowed Mr. Chen to leave the embassy. Mr. Locke said Mr. Chen wanted to leave the diplomatic compound but demanded pledges from Chinese authorities that they would not retaliate against him or his family.

Before Mrs. Clinton departed Beijing, Chinese authorities announced that they would allow Mr. Chin, his wife and their daughter to travel to the United States, where he has been offered a fellowship to study at New York University.

However, Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen warned that U.S. officials “must not assume Beijing will actually allow this to happen.”

DIPLOMATIC TRAFFIC

Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:

Monday

• Ban Ki-moon, secretary-general of the United Nations, who addresses the Center for Strategic and International Studies and receives a distinguished leadership award from the Atlantic Council.

• Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie of China, who meets with Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

• Prince Harry of Great Britain, who receives a distinguished leadership award from the Atlantic Council.

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