UPDATE: Mr. Chen Has Left China — China’s Military Visit to the U.S. and Mr. Chen’s Pending Release: Just Mind Games?
The New York Times has just reported that Chen Guangcheng has left China aboard a commercial flight bound for the United States, “according to friends who have spoken to him.”
Mr. Chen left Beijing on a United Airlines flight bound for Newark with his wife and two children at around 5:30 p.m. after facing earlier delays.
Earlier Saturday Mr. Chen told friends over a cellphone that he was excited to be leaving China but that he was also worried about the fate of relatives he leaves behind. “He’s happy to finally have a rest after seven years of suffering but he’s also worried they will suffer some retribution,” said Bob Fu, president of ChinaAid, a Christian advocacy group based in Texas.
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While Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and the Pentagon are wining and dining and giving tours of several U.S. military installations to visiting Chinese defense minister Liang Guanglie and his entourage of high-ranking military officers (who are “seeking to better understand the workings of the U.S. military”), over in Beijing dissident Chen Guangcheng says that the Chinese government has quietly promised him it will investigate abuses he and his family suffered at the hands of local authorities, in a rare instance of Beijing bowing to demands of an activist, according to the Boston Herald.
The Boston Herald:
Beijing’s apparent willingness to look into the blind legal activist’s complaints is another sign that his gambit late last month — when he fled house arrest in his home town for the U.S. Embassy and set off a diplomatic tussle — has succeeded in getting high officials to address his concerns.
Chen said an official from a central government bureau that handles citizens’ complaints has visited him in his Beijing hospital four times, including to take a statement last Thursday.
“After he took my statement, he said they would launch an investigation as long as there are facts, and that if there are facts about the illegal actions, then the issue definitely would be openly addressed,” Chen told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.
But back to the Chinese military mission to the U.S.
According to the Stars and Stripes, U.S. and Chinese military leaders discussed “issues including North Korea, cyberattacks, nuclear proliferation and free access to sea lanes near China — issues that have come between the countries in the past.”
But they also discussed future cooperation on humanitarian aid, disaster relief, drug interdiction and counterpiracy measures. Panetta said the two nations would conduct an anti-piracy exercise later this year.
Liang said both sides are committed to building a strong military-to-military relationship based on “mutual respect” and “mutual benefit.” His invitation to Panetta to visit China in the near future, he said, represents “a turnaround” in relations between the countries after disagreements over arms sales to Taiwan.
Is this all a Chinese version of the kabuki dance, just mind games or a definitive change in China’s political and military attitude and posture towards the U.S.?
We should soon know, if and when the rubber of the aircraft carrying Mr. Chen hits an American runway; when the next arms package for Taiwan is announced; when the U.S. much-heralded “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region expands; when…