China might bail Obama out of dissident deal mess
Hillary Clinton, no slouch politically, appears to be orchestrating the departure of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng after the State Department botched his release from the US embassy on Wednesday.
And the Chinese, eager for their own reasons to get the incident behind them, look like they're ready to allow Chen to leave China in order to "study" abroad.
Speaking at a news conference at the end of two days of economic and security talks that have been overshadowed by Mr. Chen's case, Mrs. Clinton said she was encouraged by a statement earlier on Friday from China's Foreign Ministry that said Mr. Chen could apply to study outside China. The proposal appeared to offer the possibility of a breakthrough in the crisis.
Mrs. Clinton said that progress had been made "to help him have the future that he wants" and referred to the ministry's statement as well as a visit by American Embassy staff and an American doctor to Mr. Chen in a Beijing hospital on Friday, the first time they were able to see him in person since late Wednesday.
"But there is more work to do, so we will stay engaged as this moves forward," she said.
The announcement came hours after Mr. Chen, in a four-point statement conveyed by telephone to a friend, insisted that he did not want to seek political asylum in the United States but that he had been invited to attend New York University and hoped "to go to the United States and rest for several months."
The question for Chen and the Chinese is; would they allow the dissident back into the country after a few months?
Given how the Chinese have treated Chen since his exit from the US embassy, that appears to be highly unlikely:
Senior American officials have privately acknowledged missteps by diplomats rushing to wrap up negotiations on the Chen case before the two days of economic and security talks, led by Mrs. Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner. Those included a failure to guarantee access to Mr. Chen at the hospital or to gain firm assurances from Chinese officials on how he would be treated.
The diplomatic miscues in China became a campaign issue for President Obama as his Republican rival, Mitt Romney, seized upon the apparently bungled release of Mr. Chen. Republican lawmakers and rights activists have accused the Obama administration of leaving one of China's most prominent dissidents at the mercy of the Chinese police.
In a telephone conversation with The Associated Press, Mr. Chen said his wife was being followed by men who are recording her movements on video and that his own conversations with American officials were being cut off after a couple of sentences.
No wonder Chen feared for his life and felt betrayed by the Americans. The embassy promised Chen that they would stay with him while he was hospitalized. Instead, American officials who accompanied Chen were kicked out and replaced by police. The Chinese government also appears to be building a case to use against him if they decide to arrest him.
If Chen comes to America, this will all die down and Obama will escape without too much damage. That appears to be China's intent as the administration was revealed once again to be too trusting of our adversaries while demonstrating a childlike naivete about the nature of totalitarian government.