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Chen Guangcheng And U.S.-China Relations

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng makes a daring escape. We’ll examine his fate and impact on US-China relations.

This file image made from video posted to YouTube April 27, 2012 by by overseas Chinese news site Boxun.com, shows blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell arrived early Sunday, April 29 in Beijing on a hastily arranged trip as problems from the escape of a blind legal activist to possible new arms sales to Taiwan threaten to derail fragile U.S.-China co-operation. His trip comes after activist Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest in his rural village (AP)

This file image made from video posted to YouTube April 27, 2012 by by overseas Chinese news site Boxun.com, shows blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell arrived early Sunday, April 29 in Beijing on a hastily arranged trip as problems from the escape of a blind legal activist to possible new arms sales to Taiwan threaten to derail fragile U.S.-China co-operation. His trip comes after activist Chen Guangcheng escaped from house arrest in his rural village (AP)

Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng wanted the law followed in China.  For Chinese authorities, that was too much.

When Chen took up the case of women forced to have abortions, he ended up in prison.  Then under informal house arrest, surrounded by goons.

A week ago, in an incredible escape, the blind lawyer crawled over the back wall of his house and, eventually, into US protection.  Now he’s at the center of a major diplomatic tangle between the world’s two biggest powers.

This hour, On Point:  Chinese law, human rights, the United States, and the case of self-taught lawyer Chen.

-Tom Ashbrook


Barbara Demick, Beijing bureau chief, Los Angeles Times.

Jerome Cohen, co-director of New York University School of Law’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute.

Sharon Hom, executive director, Human Rights in China, which promotes democratic reforms in China and has offices in New York and Hong Kong.

From Tom’s Reading List

ABC News “Top officials from the U.S. and China are locked in intense meetings regarding the fate of activist Chen Guangcheng, according to a U.S. based advocacy group. ”

Washington Post “U.S. and Chinese officials are ironing out a deal to secure American asylum for a blind Chinese legal activist who fled house arrest, with an agreement likely before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton arrives this week, a U.S. rights campaigner said Monday.”

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  • American pissant

    What makes him an activist?  What does he advocate?  if he advocated the same things in America, as US citizen, he would be ignored, an labelled a crackpot–as we all are who question corporate lies that control government.  

  • American Pissant

    You can’t just call him an activist to garner our support.  Koch brother teabag minions are ‘activists’ but that have no good or legitimate or honest cause.  I want to know more.  Is he an artist,is he a writer, a journalist, a blogger…?  Did he organize Eco-protests?  is he against corporate corruption in the faux-Com party of china?   Does he advocate for more transparency, or democracy?  What exactly did he do?

    • Richhead

       He exposed forced abortion is about all the media reported about him.

      • Ray in VT

        I thought that I heard that he also exposed some party corruption and the local or regional level as well.

    • Yoss

      Did you listen to the report or read the captions under the picture above? He attempted to use Chinese law to vindicate the rights of both the handicapped and women forced to have abortions. Following his confinement he has struggled to use his tenuous position to demonstrate the brutality that can result from local corruption.

      • american pissant

         well, Yoss, when i posted, there wasn’t a description, only the under under the pic.  I can read thank you–it was not posted.  I am on the other side of the world–chances are I see it before you do, and chances are I influenced how they wrote the text later–to clarify his activism.

  • Victor Vito

    If he was so dangerous, I kinda doubt the Chinese government would have left him on house arrest in a rural village.  If he was truly a problem, someone else would be using his internal organs by now.

  • American Pissant

    Victor–do you really believe what you’re saying?  That China abducts people and kills them, donating organs?  Hard to believe.   You are saying they are somehow monsters.  But you cant know that.  That they are just monsters.  Sounds like you are a victim of media scare-mongering.  House arrest is a harsh enough crime for social activism, and a tactic China uses often.  it doesn’t take much to silence sb–disconnect the internet, track and monitor cell phone use or take it away, and post thugs around the house and neighborhood to antagonize friends and family.  Many people in china, many unemployed–and happy for a little thug work.  but to make accusations such as cutting people up and donating organs is no different than calling people rats and cockroaches to flame the hate and burn people in ovens because you think they are evil.  In other words, such accusations are nazism.  And a favored tactic of the American war machine.

    • Victor Vito

      I think China deals harshly with internal political opposition.

      You are guilty of leaping to some monumental conclusions about me.  The US uses drones to attack weddings in a country we are supposedly friends with.  We kill American citizens in foreign countries without due process.  The number one cause of bankruptcy in our country is medical bankruptcy.  We are supposed to be the good guys.  What do you think China, with 4 times our population and a much narrower view of individual worth is willing to do with troublemakers?

      Talk about Nazis and incinerating people is bluster.  I will say this;  If an individual endangers an entity as powerful as a nation state, the nation state will seldom hesitate to eliminate the individual.

      • american pissant

         I think I see your point after reading your first submission again.  In other words he is just one lone voice in the wilderness–if he was a real threat–he would be dealt with–silenced forever. 

        My feeling is that in china the control over media and information is so powerful and the ethnocentric nationalism so fervent that very few people can be a real threat to power or the ‘official word’–many people in china believe the lies, or convince themselves that they do.  Locals are aware of environmental pollution on a local level–but a few cities away they know nothing nor do they care.  Any dissent is quickly silenced and information tightly regulated and distorted.

        There is a very cynical attitude in China.  They know everything is mucked up, but they don’t really care–that is the way it is they say, and go about their business.  The government doesn’t need to be so harsh–the people treat each other harshly-they do not really care what happens to people–unless a foreign entity does it.  its okay for fellow Chinese to beat each other and lie and cheat and steal and die in the street without getting help (a cultural element that made the cultural revolution so bad–not necessarily crimes of state–tho ignorance was inflamed).

        I think it is important to realize, despite corruption, and rampant capitalism, the government in China more than we are likely to discuss.  They have a better health care system than us–by far.  Tho it has problems.  They spend quite a bit of money on social advertizing–trying to educate peasant classes–in other words they are aware of the vulgarity in society, the discourtesy..and actively pursue it in many cases.  They have shows weher they catch people doing things on tape.  They’ve had ournalists exposing food crimes.  Advertizements everywhere advocate giving your seat on th ebus to elderly and pregnant women, and being kind in the market, and not littering  and not spitting…these ar enot the actions of monsters.  All in all –china has a very peaceful society–one doesn’t fear wlking down the street in the poorest neighborhood–there isnt fear mongering in China as ther is in American media and culture.  Before European invasions in the 18th c–china was at peace for over a thousand years.  They are not a warlike people as Americans and europeans are.  We in the west have a culture of violence and rape and plunder–that cannot be denied.

        hina is extremely overpopulated.  The one child policy is a daring attempt to do something in the face of dire straits–more than we ever do in America.  We counter real problems with lies, half-truths, smear campaigns, and distraction wars over nothing and fought for one man, one company. 

        Chinese people do not always treat children well–especially if a girl–and they will produce baby after baby to get that boy–and orphan the girls–its barbaric.  Christian Americans adopt those babies–it s a happy little child-market–called human trafficking.  I’m glad some of those children–the beautiful ones–are adopted and find a home, but what of the ones slightly less charming in appearance, or with a hair lip.  Chinese will abandon any child with a slight irregularity  (peasants i speak of mostly). The one child policy is not so barbaric.  We need less people born it not the world over stupid gender issues, not more.

  • Ed

    Bravo, a protestor of China’s one-child policy and force sterilization policy!

    • Yar

      Ed, in the news this morning a fact that every hour a child is born in the US addicted to opiates was presented.  I am liberal when it comes to social policy, but see a need to do something to stem drug addiction.  Maybe sterilization of opiate addicts would be a deterrent. How could such a policy be implemented so it didn’t target women or the poor, but addresses bringing healthy babies into our world.  Universal healthcare would be a big first step.  
      Ed, what are you for? I know what you are against.By the way, China’s one child policy saved their nation from starvation.  Now they have to address gender bias in families.  A sexually unbalanced nation won’t remain stable for the long term.  Of course, they could simply start a war.  That is what we seem to do when we have too many young men.

      • Ray in VT

        Sterilization of certain individuals is a bad road to start going down.  We’ve been there before with eugenics, and we don’t need to revisit it.  I don’t think that we can sustain continued population growth such as it is, but coercion is not the way.

        • Yar

          Ray, you are correct humans can’t justly apply the decision of who should be allowed to have children.  But should society pay to care for severely damaged children born to addicts?  It may take the productivity of ten people to pay for care of one opiate addicted baby.  I would rather give drugs to the addicts than raise their children.  Take away the drug addicts right to procreation in exchange for all the drugs they want at a drug farm.  Once they enter the drug rehabilitation farm, they have to chose not to use drugs for a full year in order to get out.  Drug addicts have to learn to live in a society where drugs are readily available and chose not to use them.  Is this more cruel than prison?

          • Brett

            For the sake of discussion, maybe play your vision out a little bit; the opiate addict cleans up for a year, has a baby, then goes right back to abusing opiates. The baby, while not born addicted/a victim of all sorts of birth defects, ends up needing supports outside the home that still burdens society, so to speak.

            What about the child born needing society’s supports due to some inadvertent negligence from the mother? Where would we draw the demarcation line?

            I do hear your desire to address a societal problem, a desire I feel many of us also feel. I just don’t agree with your solution.  

          • Yar

            I don’t have a solution, this is only an idea, and a radical one at that, however doing nothing is also cruel to both the addict and children. Some situations are no win. My proposal is to give an addict a choice of permanent sterilization in exchange for participation in the drug farm with access to all the drugs they want. To leave the farm one must to stay clean for a full year. My thought process is that the addict needs to learn to live in a society where drugs are readily available and chose not to use them. It is not the solution for all addicts, they could chose to go to a rehabilitation center that doesn’t allow drug use. Lexington Kentucky had a drug farm similar to what I am presenting.
            Participants purchased the right to get drugs of choice when they wanted by allowing drug experimentation on themselves. It was an exploitative use of drug addicts in the name of science.

      • Patrik

        Nature has a way of self-correcting populations if we as humans cannnot.  I just hope we wake up and it never comes to that. 

    • Terry Tree Tree

      Priests wanting some more ‘variety’?    MORE VICTIMS??

  • Yar

    The US looks like a teenager criticizing a grandparent, China has plenty of bad habits, but we have little advice that is useful. As we hurtle toward revolution and squander the resources our forefathers have entrusted in us we attempt to tell a 6000 year old society how to manage their population.  In high density populations the rules of civil society are different than in the wild wild west.  Our elections are bought by 1%ers and we are so partisan that we even have trouble with legislation in which everyone agrees, such as federally backed student loan interest rates.  
    The US has 730 prisoners per 100,000 population while China has 122.
    We are number one in incarceration while China comes in at 121st.  Lets talk about human rights, yes, we should look at our own record on human rights.

    • Patrik

      This right here.  Also, the more I observe and experience captialism the more it almost seems like communism by any other name, ultimately a few people with all the wealth and power centralized on them, subtly pulling the strings and steering policy without the consent of the rest of the populous.  This is one of the cries of Occupy, the common man/woman does not have a say anymore, just the illusion of it.

      • american pissant

         thats because communism was never communism–it was fascism.  Economics and political systems are very different things.  Anything that looked like economic communism would only work under a democratic system.

        American capitalism is not democratic–its fascism.  America is not democratic.  its fascism.  The same system Hitler reigned under with very few differences.  The fascist have just become more sophisticated in implementing their machine.

  • Jengliu

    Mr. Chen belongs to a species that resurfaced long after its extinction.  This rare species in the history of chinese brutal political repression only comes up once a great while.  Nevertheless, it is a model for generations of chinese, especially the intellectuals, to admire as their mentor.  Facing the certain defeat even worse, the death, Mr. Chen and very few of his kind stand up to the oppressors and insist on taking back unalienable rights.  If Americans want to talk the talk (of human right), they have got to walk the walk (of liberty for all).  For god sake, this is the moment to reclaim the ownership of the virtue.

  • Patrik

    Is our financial relationship with China going to affect the outcome of this situation?  Are we going to sell Chen out? 

    I have read and listened to several analysis all pointing to something different, suggesting there are more moving parts to this than meets the eye.  I’m not a conspiracy theorist but to Victors earlier post, his escape does seem suspicious now, if he was so dangerous to their government.

    • Patrik

      Have I been reading and hearing that we possibly did sell him out?!  In short:  He wanted to come here, we told him to stay there…

  • Handsondesign

    I struggle with our government calling out other countries on “human rights” abuses.  We have 1 in 100 people in this country in prison, we torture our prisoners of “war” and are killing 100′s of innocent civilians in Pakistan and Yemen with drone attacks.  How about we get our own house in order before we run around telling the rest of the world about human rights?

    • Jae Lee of Vermont

      Please see my comments above.  Our civil rights lawyers, journalists, and advocates who work to bring these abuses to light are crucial to the maintenance of our free society.  (It is not a perfectly free  society, but freer than most.)  If our government terrorized and abused them to try and silence them, I hope other nations would speak up and speak up loudly.

      • american pissant

         we do terrorize and kill and maimed and torture–and nobody seems to say anything-certainly not loud enough–certainly not with their wallets.  American terror is largely ignored and aided.  Western governments are fascist.

  • KastleBrill

    Yay Lawyers – For all the bad propaganda that there is in the US, it is lawyers (barefoot or otherwise) who are on the front line of protection of human rights, from Chen to the ACLU to Human Rights Watch to the Pakistani judge’s revolt it is lawyers who respect the law and risk themselves to see it made fairly and applied fairly

  • Cory

    Question for the guests:

    This issue is more public in America than in China. Obama is getting boxed-in politically by the clear moral issue of this, as well as Romney’s strong statements on it. But it is hard to see China budging even an inch. 

    That suggests a stalemate could develop.

    So, what do the guests see as the end game? What is the range of possible outcomes that we are looking at?

    Cory in Taiwan

    • american pissant

      It is not an issue in china at all–nobody knows who this person is, nor do they care.  They all want itouch and gucci and BMW.  trust me on this.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    Yvonne calls in to give us the position of the Chinese government.

  • Akfaka

    Did China ever tell the US what to do? Why in the world we keep telling China what to do? So the US is the world police.

    • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

       Read Rich Madison’s comment above yours.  That’s the answer.

    • Yoss

      China releases a yearly report on US human rights abuses.

    • american pissant

       yes they do–china, warned that the single-payer health care should not be passed.  They said they wanted their money owed.  china threatens the us and European countries all the time–not to speak with the Dali Lama.  China interferes with trade issues–sending rich lobbyists to Washington to win laws in Chinese favor–such tariffs on tires, etc.  China throws up obstacles when independent human right organizations are trying to help people in Sudan…china is selling the terrorists there weapons. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Rich-Madison/100002956347397 Rich Madison

    Stay out of it? That’s insane. This week I’ve been reading about the holocaust, and I am appalled that the rest of the world “stayed out of it” while six million Jews were murdered. 
    Chen Guangcheng is a brave man doing what it right. He MUST be supported.

    • Jae Lee of Vermont

      I agree — if we had waited until we had establishe racial equality or eliminated racism in the United States, then Hitler sould have had the chance to see his whole plan through, perhaps for all of Europe.  Are we not ashamed of how long we hid out heads in the sand while Hitler first restricted the rights of, imprisoned in ghettos, and then murdered millions of innocent people?

    • Terry Tree Tree

      MILLIONS, other than Jewish!

  • William

    It is funny that we won’t deal with Cuba much but have opened the doors wide open for China.

    • Ray in VT

      Agreed.  It doesn’t seem to make any practical sense, although there is a real political reason behind it.

      • William

        I’m not so sure we gain much if anything at all by trading with China. We have huge trade deficits, industrial theft by the Chinese companies on a huge scale, billions of dollars in fake goods, drugs etc come from China. We got along well without them for over 50 years so what do we need them for?

        • jimino

          Who do you consider “we” to be?  Many multinational corporations who claim to be American benefit mightily from moving their business to China for its cheap labor, assuring much higher profit margins.  China’s industrial might was created by “we” to sell stuff to “we”.  And a lot of fat cats gained hugely despite the the fact that our country as a whole was harmed by their actions.  It’s called 21st century global free market capitalism.

    • Jason___A

      The blatant bankruptcy of the foreign policy of the United States.

  • Lost Cat 00

    Excellent program and exceptionally excellent panel.

    If I recall well human rights have been declared universal by international courts and UN agencies. I am humbled by the courge and ethical standards of the Chinese dissent. Let us not forget them in their struggle for a better humankind. 

  • adiggins

    Yes, this is an opportunity to remind the Chinese government that it is obligated under its own law and international human rights laws to rein in the inhumane acts of local officials whose power has gone to their heads. 

    Most Americans do not understand the political pressures and dynamics at work here.

  • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

    The caller won’t say it, but I will.  Human rights are human rights.  They’re not limited by national borders.  We aren’t able to fight every battle, but we must fight at least some of them.

    • Jason___A

      Yes it is easy for the armchair generals of this nation to send other young people off to die for your nonsense.

      • Terry Tree Tree

        Like all the ‘reasons’ to invade Iraq?  To make a few oil companies GREEDY richer?

        • Jason___A


      • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

         Um, did anyone declare war against China?  The callers were saying that we should do nothing, but there’s a whole lot of territory between nothing and war.  Calm down and think.

        • Jason___A

          Whe someone says: “we must fight at least some of them.”, that implies a CALL TO WAR.

          Accordingly, it’s up to you, Mr. ArmChair General to state that was not what you meant. I can only go by your words…lacking mind reading ability. Perhaps you can do that, I cannot.

          • http://gregorycamp.wordpress.com/ Greg Camp

             I see.  You don’t understand figurative language.

    • american pissant

       what about health care in America, what about bp oil spills–come on–we have no human rights in America–money talks people walk and starve and resort to drugs and end up incarcerated or maimed in nazi war against innocent people.  We need half the balls mao had–we need to incarcerate the human killer sin Washington, in corporate hallways…her in america.  You canot build a society when so many people are more than willing to  tea rit down for short term gain.  We need valiant, daring balls to uproot these weeds and Terminex them with their won insecticides.

  • Tina

    Why did we ever start trading with China in the first place without FIRST insisting on human and civil rights codes being in place and practiced?

    I KNOW there would have been a level of hypocrisy involved, but while we worked on ourselves, we should have insisted on an underlayment of human and civil rights being in place.

    Of course, NOW we’re even in debt to China, so it will be so much harder to do what we should have done initially.

  • Sandy Untermyer, Appling GA

    Excuse me, but what gives Barack Obama, a President who has pursued laws and executive orders that say it’s okay to lock people up here forever without a trial, to ship them off to be tortured in other countries, to make any discussion of government torture in our own country a state secret, to make war without even consulting Congress, to have an American citizen killed on orders without judicial oversight, to send the CIA after a publisher for exposing political (not military) secrets, and even to keep in place laws that allow the President to spy on his political enemies, the right to interfere in China’s human rights cases?

    Many Americans, conservative as well as progressive, realize that this President stands for injustice, He’s sold us out just to exercise his own personal power.

    • american pissant

       wrong!  Obama is a puppet same as Bush–they add the same policies because they have the same masters.  Bush implemented all this before obama was even conceived of

  • JSP

    It’s a delicate issue.  The US can by no means ignore Chen Guangcheng’s plight, the US needs to stand up for what we believe, however, given the symbiotic economic relationship between the US and China our response needs to be measured. Unfortunately,  over the last couple of years have put ourselves in debt to China and as result we simply are not in a position to be righteous.  In my opinion this is a time to defend Chen Guangcheng silently, it’s not a time to insult China by making it a public issue.

  • Jae Lee of Vermont

    The comments by eralier callers — that this is China’s business and they should have a right to manage its people in its own way — was also a very popular sentiment some 70 years ago when Germany was “managing” its population in its own way.  We should have learned then, and remember now, that human rights violations are the whole neighborhood’s business, no matter inwhose house it may be taking place.  As good neighbors to CHina and to all, we must speak up.

    • John C

      Our voices will fall on deaf ears in the politburo, as it did with the Soviet Union.  They are a sovereign nation, at the end of the day.

      • Jae Lee of Vermont

        Hitler’s Germany was also a sovereign nation.  And at the end of the day, the world held him accountable.  And even when we think no one will listen, we must speak.  They may not listen, but out words will be heard. 

        • John C

          Yes he was held accountable at untold cost in lives. But Mao and Stalin were not.  Look, let’s face facts, it all comes down to the question, “So what are you gonna do about it?” 

          The political will to engage in a major land war is NOT there (now), and to pretend that there is some sort of middle ground where we can advance a pro-human rights agenda without facing accusations of violating China’s sovereignty and risking war are far too few, and not an option in any case.

          This is something that’s going to have be solved from within, by the authorities themselves.  I will not sacrifice my children or yours to this end.

          And yes I do think it’s an all or nothing approach.  Sorry I just don’t see any other options.  To destabilize China is folly of an epic magnitude, even in pursuit of the lofty goals of human rights.

        • Jason___A

          I think your intrepetation of history is a bit off. Hitler was never held accountable…he committed suicide and never went to trial.

  • Akfaka

    Clean up our own backyard first before we go telling other people what to do. Look at what a mess our own backyard, our government, our Congress and our economy.

  • Jay Reeg

    Tom, thanks for not lauging at the self indulgent caller who “refuses to travel to China” as her personal protest. Heck, most people can’t even afford to travel within the US!  Oh yeah, its May 1st – power to the people, or some of them, anyway…. 

  • Pffefer

    Sharon Hom is hallucinating. The US has always considered China an enemy, not a partner. The Chinese know that very well.

    • Akfaka

      Only when the US needs the Chinese money then we are partner. Why is the US borrow money from such a “evil” nation?? How hypocritical.

      • Jason___A

        We would not need to borrow money if the US Congress was not so corrupt and corporate influence was smashed.

  • Jae Lee of Vermont

    At first blush, it may seem like this is a case of one man’s welfare weighed against the greater good of the many as affected by issues needing China’s cooperation, like arms control.  Indeed, many, many live can be and will be affected for the better if we improve our relations with China.  

    But the issue is not so easily framed. Mr. Chen, while one man, represents the plight of many.  The abuse,as Ms. Demick pointed out, is systemic, even inherent, in China’s government and control of its citizens.  By speaking up for Mr. Chen, we speak up for hundreds of Chinese citizens who are denied the protection of CHina’s own laws.  By speaking up for Mr Chen’s human rights, we speak up for the human rights of all.

    • Jae Lee of Vermont

      (The comment may have been by SHaron Hom and not Ms. Demick — I apologize if it wrongly attributed.)

  • John C

    One thing that drives me to distraction is the many voices of concerned people who sympathize with the lack of respect for human rights in China.  Don’t get me wrong, I used to bind myself up in knots about it, especially when Tianenman Square happened.

    But here is a hard lesson for you.  Power comes from the barrel of a gun.  Think you can impose sanctions on China without strangling ourselves financially? Think again.  So what options have we got left? Military force?  You’re out of your mind.

    Our only real option here is to respect Chinese sovereignty, to let those sadists in the government there torture and rob their own people.  Chen’s fate is asylum in the United States.  I don’t see any other real options.

    • Jason___A

      The US needs to mind it own business for a change. We have more than enough problems to deal with here.

  • Leslie

    Where do we get off telling all these other countries how to run their politics when ours is such a mess? We are not the policemen of the world. When will we learn that we cannot dictate policy to other countries? 

  • Jae Lee of Vermont

    I agree we must clean up our own human rights issues so that we can speak with greater integrity in the global forum.  However, when lawyers in the U.S. speak up for the rights of others — like prisoners abused in the sustem — or when journalist report on our abuse of prisoners of war or on political corruption, our towns and states do not terrorize and abuse their families the way Mr. Chen’s provincial government has terrorize him and his family. And if the local governments did, our federal government would, as they have eventually in the past, step in. If wait until our our own “house” is perfectly clean, we will step outside to find the rest of the world in chaos.

  • Brett

    This random site-blocking malfunction has got to be fixed! …HELLO, is anyone there?

  • Azra

    -……………BOOT NEWT !!!!!
    -What is he playing at? He has postponed his anticlimactic “announement. He dropped out last week. Why are taxpayers still paying for his body guards, and other perks? His campaign was doomed from the start. Let him pay his own expenses.
    Sorry this off topic, but this was a recent development, and I wanted to help spread the word. Every member of America’s non-elite should be outraged by such extravagant, wasteful spending. (FISCAL CONSERVATIVE, indeed.)

    • Terry Tree Tree

      You expect a $1.4 MILLION Historian to pay his own bills?
          With WHAT?  For a Republican politician, he is DESTITUTE!  He probably cannot even afford to pay off his bill at Tiffany’s.   Next, you’ll expect him to pay for his own food, and shelter?

      • Azra

        Yes, I was being rash. We have to make sure that he’s still able to live in the way he became accustomed to, while on the campaign trail. Maybe after he has received a few paychecks from his new, (there must be one in the works), talk show, he can gradually be weaned. Of course, he might need our money indefinitely, so he can colonize the moon. Under the circumstances, it’s the least we can do.

    • aj

      You’ve managed to turn a format for letters and text only into a masterpiece of art. Truly unique. How on EARTH did you do that?

      P.S. ……………BOOT NEWT!!!!!(?) LOLLL!

  • Skewsta

    I’m in the fence. I think he is a noble person. But without bloodshed and civil leaders within their country gather popular support, they will not achieve freedom. Outside interfence will just gather steam and dissipate quickly. America is not perfect and has endured to come to this point. Let China go thru these pains. The Arab Spring can happen there but will take time.

  • Arkitec

    One of the things to bear in mind is that China’s Magic Jeannie  is out of its bottle. Putting it back in the bottle is not an option. It is only a question of time, how much time, and at what additional costs to China’s population and World image will be paid before the greater shifts are seen and believed..

  • Justice

    Why can’t we turn him over to the International Criminal Court and say, “Hey China, you think he is a criminal? Prove it!”

    • american pissant

       good idea.  lets turn bush and cheny, BP execs, and wall street thugs over to the ICC.  let the people rove they are criminals.  The truth will out.

      But justice will not be paid–courts are bought and paid for.

  • Terry Tree Tree

    By responding to the HYPOCRICY of other nations, we REVEAL our own HYPOCRICY,  and will stimulate an acknowledgement of that HYPOCRICY!  This gives us a chance to work on BOTH!

  • joshwa

    This incident is representative of the larger pattern of local officials acting outside the legal system, imprisoning, beating, and otherwise punishing those who undermine their interests. So-called “petitioners” who flock to Beijing to advocate for themselves to the central government are kidnapped and held in “black prisons” run by hired thugs.

    The central government has a “face-saving” out of this situation: condemn and investigate the local officials responsible both for Guangcheng’s detention and torture, as well as for the original forced sterilizations.

    Since Guangcheng is not wanted by the central government for any crime (besides being a PR disaster), they can let him have his moment and, with some deft media management, soften the impact of his outspokenness. 

    If the government can spin it as an internal matter and not caving to international pressure, they can come out of this looking better than ever while not actually doing much. 

  • Nora

    When human rights are violated in a country where we have an economic or national security interest, everyone insists on intervening, but how often do we take up our banner on behalf of human rights anywhere else?

  • guest

    Amazing that callers say things like “for so many people in the world the US represents a standard for human rights”.  How absurd, when for so many people in Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, etc, the US is a monster to be feared.  The US is the world’s leading human rights violator by far, has been since the second half of the 20th century. 


      I understand the sentiment. On the other hand, where do people flee to in their countries when they are persecuted by their own govermentS? US embassies. What country do people escape to when their own countries are torn in war? US. Who save Afghanistan’s female rape victims from being murdered by their own bothers/fathers/uncles/cousins so on in the name of cleansing family name? US soliders. THAT IS ENOUGH AMAZING TO ME!!

      • american pissant

         for political reasons friend.  America has a lot to gain by demonizing china.

  • american pissant

    if we cared so much about human rights–BP executives would be in prison.  Wall street would be regulated and the criminals incarcerated.  bush would be in jail.  cheny would be on death row.  Ountless innocent black men in american jails would be released.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/John-V-Walsh/774632298 John V. Walsh

    I hear more about Chen Guangcheng on NPR than I have heard about Bradley Manning – incarcerated and isolated for one or two years now.  
    But then again OnPoint is generally a cheerleader for Pentagon Policy like most of NPR.

    The war on Iraq dragged on for years and On Point did not have a single guest voicing opposition until well after a majority turned against it.  (Many callers expressed opposition but they were generally given short shrift by Ashbrook.)  Wow.  That was courageous “journalism.”

    And now on NPR we hear again and again from the same discredited voices that gave us Iraq in the first place – including Madeleine Albright who found the sanctions which she and the Clintonites rolled out for Iraq and which cost untold suffering including the lives of 500,000 kids by her own admission.

  • Warren

    It’s a good thing the man is blind.If he were sighted he’d realize his sunglasses are as “passe” as the’Govenator”.I find it appalling that the U.S.Embassy ejected the man.

  • Bin

    It hurts to hear the callers on the radio being so clueless and innocent. China is a communist dictatorship. There are no human rights or the rule law in the sense we take for granted. The government are treats its citizens no better than chattel. And this is the place where our “executives” and “job creators” are falling over each other to export the jobs to… Wake up, “we the people”!

  • Inasrullah

    I don’t understand why so much media attention has been given to the man, other than his daring escape, this seems unimportant to me. Listenting to NPR, two stories were juxtaposed this one, and the escalation of the drone wars in Pakistan, and the Pakistan government’s ire over this policy as many civilians are being killed. Where are their human rights? Why are we not focusing press attention on the civilians killed in our War on Terror?  That seems to me a bigger human rights issue, and this one is one we actually control.

  • your listener

    Good discussions, not particularly about its content, but the ways were discussed and the callers confronted and presented straight concerns and questions from all aspects. 

    I have mixed views like all others.

  • Samuelkirkland

    Can Mr. Cohen please refer to the Secretary of State as Secretary Clinton? And not just “Hillary.”  What else do I need to say?  I’m 32, and I find his brevity as ridiculous as my grandmother would.

  • Wchao1107

    What a happy ending! but look deeper, you will findthe biggest winner is Mr. Chen, a jobless, handicapped, excon turning himself into national treaure of USA, he will have a bright future in US, such as book deal, Tv show….etc.the next winner is Chinese goverment, they just get rid of a troubled man, no more headache, no more police monitoring, does’t have to feed him anymore.the Obama people is happy this thing is finally over, republician will be quiet. so it is a wash for politician.the biggest loser is US public and tax payer, valueble time and resources are wasted, since he is handicapped, the US govement will take care of him and his family for the rest of his life.So, the winners are all Chinese and loser are all American.The American has been set up by its own stuptity, there will be many dozen Mr. Chen escaping to US embassy for year to come, the show will be the same, untill one day American realize how stupite they are in the first place, and start to say no. or they will never figure it out until the country is totally broken.What a joke, this can only happen in the American.

  • Wondertales

    Wchao1107 should learn how to correctly spell stupid (“stupite”?) before he insults our intelligence with his rant.  Are you by any chance working for the Chinese government Wchao1107?

  • Wchao1107

    I do not work for Chinese goverment, I am self employed Chinese American, I create jobs and pay tax to US goverment. Have lived in both country.  any body with average IQ could see through this, this is what happed with other high profile disssents, US goverment spend millions of dollar on those nosense trying to embrass China, at the end, those people live on US goverment pay roll directly or indirectly forever, too bad, this country is on the fiscal cliff due to large and small mistake like this,  What a joke.

Aug 21, 2014
In this November 2012, file photo, posted on the website freejamesfoley.org, shows American journalist James Foley while covering the civil war in Aleppo, Syria. In a horrifying act of revenge for U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq, militants with the Islamic State extremist group have beheaded Foley — and are threatening to kill another hostage, U.S. officials say. (AP)

An American is beheaded. We’ll look at the ferocity of ISIS, and what to do about it.

Aug 21, 2014
Jen Joyce, a community manager for the Uber rideshare service, works on a laptop before a meeting of the Seattle City Council, Monday, March 17, 2014, at City Hall in Seattle. (AP)

We’ll look at workers trying to live and make a living in the age of TaskRabbit and computer-driven work schedules.

Aug 20, 2014
In this Oct. 21, 2013 file photo, a monarch butterfly lands on a confetti lantana plant in San Antonio. A half-century ago Monarch butterflies, tired, hungry and bursting to lay eggs, found plenty of nourishment flying across Texas. Native white-flowering balls of antelope milkweed covered grasslands, growing alongside nectar-filled wildflowers. But now, these orange-and-black winged butterflies find mostly buildings, manicured lawns and toxic, pesticide-filled plants. (AP)

This year’s monarch butterfly migration is the smallest ever recorded. We’ll ask why. It’s a big story. Plus: how climate change is creating new hybridized species.

Aug 20, 2014
A man holds his hands up in the street after a standoff with police Monday, Aug. 18, 2014, during a protest for Michael Brown, who was killed by a police officer Aug. 9 in Ferguson, Mo. (AP)

A deep read on Ferguson, Missouri and what we’re seeing about race, class, hope and fear in America.

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