Delaware Senator calls Chinese dissident 'inspiring'
Senator Chris Coons says the saga of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is a reminder that human rights trump all other diplomatic concerns with China.
Earlier this month, the blind dissident escaped from house arrest in China and spent six days within the protection of the US Embassy in Beijing. "It’s an inspiring story," says Coons, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
"It’s my understanding that there’s been an arrangement made today where he will get an expedited visa. He has a fellowship offer from a U.S. university. It’s my real hope that we will soon see him here," says Coons.
The Delaware Democrat says the incident highlights the situation that those who oppose the Chinese government face. "We need to continue to stand up for their rights of free speech and for human rights broadly in the world."
Coons says just like Vietnam, Cuba, and North Korea, China is still a Communist country, "Where the security and military infrastructure of the country still maintain an iron grip on those who would speak out and those who would challenge the government."
A statement from the State Department says Chen has been granted the right to travel abroad and has been offered a fellowship at an American university where he can be accompanied by his wife and two children.
State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland says in the statement, "This matter has been handled in the spirit of a cooperative U.S.-China partnership."