Rep. Ted Poe tells Newsmax that the United States should make sure that blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is “protected and safe” and that his human right to free speech is not taken from him by the Communist Chinese government.
“I am concerned for the dissident’s safety,” declared the Texas Republican, who sits on the House Foreign Affairs Committee in an exclusive interview on Thursday. “I had heard several reports — one that the Chinese government may have threatened his family if he did not leave the embassy. I don’t know if that’s true or not.”
The official report is that Chen voluntarily left the U.S. embassy in China on Wednesday, according to Poe, a former judge, who also sits on the House Judiciary Committee. Some news reports suggest the dissident’s sudden departure from the embassy was hastened by pressure from U.S. officials intent on minimizing an embarrassing situation for the Communist nation.
In an interview with CNN on what was already Friday in China, Chen appealed directly to President Barack Obama. “I would like to say to him. Please do everything you can to get our whole family out,” according to a CNN translation.
Poe confirmed that his understanding is that Chen wants safe passage to the United States with his family on Secretary Clinton’s plane if at all possible as she wraps up her economic talks, which have now been overshadowed by the human rights’ case.
“While Secretary Clinton is still in China, apparently she is going to work to resolve the matter,” Poe explained, adding that he did not know the specifics of how Clinton might be working with the Chinese government. “It appears he may be in danger in China and I’m sure that she is familiar with all of the facts.”
Poe said that he admires Chen’s courage, and he subsequently signed a letter requesting that Secretary Clinton grant political asylum to Chen and his family. The letter was still being circulated this afternoon and it was not immediately known how many other members had signed it.
“I don’t know all of the details about the dissident but it appears to me that he is obviously someone who speaks out against the totalitarian Chinese regime that denies human rights to the citizens of China,” Poe explained. “When people do criticize the Chinese government there are historical consequences that these people pay individually, and sometimes retaliation, whether it’s jail — or retaliation against their family.
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