Chen Guangcheng, a man much braver than I’d likely be, has apparently taken sanctuary in the American embassy in Beijing. Chen has been pursuing legal means to get the Chinese dictatorship to stop forcing Chinese women to have abortions.
And, because he’s run afoul of a brutal dictatorship intent on forcing women to have abortions to enforce China’s one child policy, Chen has been hounded, harassed, and imprisoned without even the semblance of due process.
In short, Chen’s human rights have been trampled on. Now that he is in our embassy (assuming that is true), it falls to us to stand up for human rights. This isn’t something that’s happening in Syria or Egypt. This is happening on the equivalent of U.S. soil: our sovereign embassy.
What to do? China is a big dog economically; they are the dominant military power in Asia. Our relationship with them is not the best, but it’s not too bad, either. Should we jeopardize that relationship because of one man?
The answer depends on whether our president believes that all should have the rights our founding documents claim belong to all.
Chen’s story is summarized nicely in today’s Wall Street Journal editorial:
American officials have stayed quiet about the case, which is the right initial approach as senior U.S. diplomat Kurt Campbell arrived in Beijing Sunday. But the media analysis is also full of hand-wringing about “the tricky diplomatic bind” for the U.S. and China, as if Mr. Chen shouldn’t have so rudely intruded on the world of realpolitik. The U.S. cannot turn Mr. Chen over to Chinese control without betraying its own principles and the millions of Chinese who are quietly cheering his escape.
This is not something that should even be up for discussion. Our position should be simple: Mr. Chen has taken refuge in our embassy, we will not have him leave until we get iron-clad assurance from the Chinese leadership that he will be free, that he and his family will not be touched or harassed.
We should do that. Does anyone see the mealy-mouths from our State Department doing this? Will Obama do this? Don’t hold your breath.