The Chinese dissident at the center of a dispute between the U.S. and China may get his wish to go to the United States after all.
The U.S. State Department issued a statement on Friday saying that "Mr. Chen has been offered a fellowship from an American university, where he can be accompanied by his wife and two children. The United States Government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention," the State Department briefing said.
That statement came shortly after another one from the Chinese government, which stated that if Chen "wants to study abroad, as a Chinese citizen, he should follow procedures like other citizens and apply through normal channels."
That means both the Chinese and American governments may have found a means for resolving their recent spat following the dissident's transfer to a Beijing hospital after he had sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing.
Chen's arrival and departure from the embassy, along with accusations from the Chinese government and U.S. human rights groups, has created a major human rights hurdle amid the ongoing Strategic and Economic Dialogue, a summit meeting of American and Chinese high-ranking foreign policy and economic leaders.
Western media reported that after leaving the embassy, Chen felt that he remained in danger and threatened by Chinese authorities. Chen had originally been given highly publicized assurances from U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke that he would be treated fairly by China once released from American custody. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell confirmed to reporters that Chen left the embassy under his own volition.
The Chinese government remains angered by the asylum afforded to Chen by the embassy. "China can never accept the U.S. move to interfere in China's internal affairs, and it has demanded that the U.S. side apologize for that, probe into the incident thoroughly, deal with those responsible, and promise to prevent similar incidents," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said.
Western media reported that Chen may be going to study at New York University.
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