Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist now living in exile in the United States, taunted Premier Wen Jiabao in a video clip shot while he was in hiding.
The footage was taken in the home of a supporter, where Chen took refuge before he fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
The 15-minute clip, released late last month, begins with: “Dear Premier Wen Jiabao, after much effort I was finally able to make good my escape.”
He went on to lodge a spirited protest against official suppression in Dongshigu, the village in Shandong province where Chen and his family lived. He accused local officials of using violence against the family.
Chen demanded an official investigation into this abuse of power.
But Wen did not once refer to Chen while the activist remained in China, nor after his escape from house arrest before he left for the United States on May 19.
President Hu Jintao made no mention of him, either.
The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported Chen’s departure only in a brief English-language report for overseas audiences.
The fact is, the vast majority of Chinese are not aware of Chen or his fight against the authorities.
Chen’s mother still lives in the village, where menacing goons stand guard to block visitors from the outside--even if it means using force, especially against reporters.
I wonder if Chen’s family will have to continue to live in fear of isolation.
Unlike other Chinese dissidents who fled overseas, almost as if they were chased away, Chen expressed a strong desire to return to China someday.
How China will respond to Chen and his family will prove to be the litmus paper that tests the sincerity of the Hu-Wen leadership about reform trumpeting respect for human rights and the rule of law.
The United States is also responsible for Chen’s future to a great degree.
The U.S. Embassy staff acknowledged that it was a blunder for Washington to be denied access to Chen after the Obama administration handed him over to the Chinese authorities, despite having him in custody once.
The United States should pay attention not only to Chen’s well-being in the United States but also to his family back in China.
For our part, we should not forget that a countless number of people are being abused in China over unfounded accusations, just like Chen.
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