The United States and China worked together on releasing Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng because they have built up a good level of trust, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday.
“We did the right thing by giving refugee and medical care to a man who had escaped a brutal house arrest after an unjust imprisonment,” Clinton told an event hosted at the State Department.
“It was something that was in accordance with our values, even though we knew it was going to be a difficult diplomatic follow-through with the Chinese.”
Chen, a self-taught lawyer subjected to years of jail and house arrest for exposing abuses in China’s one-child policy, escaped from house arrest at his home in eastern Shandong in April and turned up at the US embassy in Beijing.
He sought refuge in the diplomatic building just as Clinton was about to arrive for high-level strategic talks in Beijing.
“They didn’t like it that this man ended up in our embassy,” Clinton said.
“We stood our ground and said ‘Look, this is who we are as Americans. We have a chance to make this better than it would be otherwise. Let’s work together,’ which we had to do not once but twice.”
Chinese and American diplomats scrambled to find a solution after Chen sought refuge at the US embassy. Once he left the diplomatic mission, he regretted his decision and said he wanted to go to the United States.
After being holed up for more than two weeks at a Beijing hospital with his fate still uncertain, Chen was suddenly given notice to pack up his belongings and prepare for departure to New York, arriving in the city on May 19.
Clinton told the event that “the fact that we had this strategic dialogue… that I was on my way there… had everybody invested in trying to work through whatever the difficulties were.
“In the end I think it showed a level of confidence and trust in the good faith of each side that enabled us to work through,” she added.