Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist from Shandong Province. File photo: weibo.com
News that Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist from Shandong Province, has entered the US embassy in Beijing and may seek asylum has made the rounds among US and European media. The question was even raised during a press conference with US President Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda in Washington, though Obama declined to comment on this specific case.
In the Western media, Chen is a hot potato for Chinese authorities. Now he is making Washington uncomfortable. Chen, unlike other dissidents who made abstract human rights goals in China, has many detailed complaints about the country's grass-roots governance. He travelled to the US embassy from Linyi, Shandong, and now these problems have entered the US sphere of import.
All countries are plagued by various public complaints. Chinese petitioners are motivated by various incentives. If petitioners' requests are not met by domestic authorities and turn to the US embassy, this is not only embarrassing to China but also puts the US in an awkward position.
The US embassy would have no interest in turning itself into a petition office receiving Chinese complaints. It is easier just preaching universal values to the Chinese public, and occasionally, helping a few exemplary cases that best illustrate US intentions. It is never willing to involve itself in too many detailed disputes in Chinese society.
The Western media has portrayed Chen as a blind activist hero, and some Chinese have echoed this view. These have given Chen a wrong impression of his importance to the US and his individual influence in China. His self-judgment has been ruined by exaggerated media reports.
Chen Guangcheng incident will not affect Sino-US relations. The upcoming China-US Strategic & Economic Dialogue is unlikely to dwell on him. Quite a few out of favor Chinese people have sought to exaggerate their influence by relying on overseas powers. But this is a poor idea. The time when foreign governments could guide Chinese authorities in making policy is long gone. In recent decades, hundreds of Chinese ran to the West seeking to put pressure over China, but none of them gained the prominence they wished.
The progress of human rights needs the support of comprehensive social development. The West has brought this idea to China, which is not against human rights. Conflicts are often the exaggeration of some specific problems.
The sustaining support of human rights can only come from within China. The West has no ability to provide much detailed help in this regard. They are frustrated more by their own human rights issues now.
The West has put all the blame on Chinese authorities for the Chen Guangcheng issue. Now he is reportedly in US embassy, which has proven to be a dramatic twist. Let us see how the US government can satisfy both Western media and Chen himself.
Global Times Report
China, US gear up for strategic talks
US officials are set to arrive in Beijing for the fourth China-US Strategic and Economic Dialogue (S&ED) starting tomorrow, but analysts warned that several thorny issues have made this year's gathering the most complicated and trying S&ED meeting to date.
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who left for Beijing on Monday for the dialogue, told reporters she will raise human rights issues during the S&ED, after being asked about media reports concerning Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist from Shandong Province.