Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng leaves U.S. Embassy after negotiations

The Takeaway

Chen Guangchen, the bilnd Chinese dissident and self-taught lawyer, who sought refuge at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing late last month, has left the Embassy compound after intense negotiations between the United States and China.

All along, according to media reports, Chen insisted he wanted neither asylum nor protection from the Chinese government — at least in the long term. Instead, he said he wanted to be reunited with his family in China, freedom from the extralegal house arrest he had been subjected to and a chance to go to school to gain formal training in law.

Wednesday, the Chinese government assured Chen that he would be able to move, go to school and see his family again. A short time later, he left the U.S. Embassy for a Chinese hospital, where he was to receive treatment for an injury he suffered to his foot while escaping captivity.

In a statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who arrived in China just hours before the situation was resolved, expressed satisfaction with the final outcome.

“I am pleased that we were able to facilitate Chen Guangcheng’s stay and departure from the U.S. Embassy in a way that reflected his choices and our values,” she said. “I was glad to have the chance to speak with him today and to congratulate him on being reunited with his wife and children.”

Clinton and Chen shared what was described by The New York Times as an emotional phone call shortly after he decided to leave the protection of the embassy.

“As he left the embassy for the hospital, Mrs. Clinton phoned Mr. Chen in what the two American officials said was an emotional conversation since both Mrs. Clinton and Mr. Chen knew of each other but had never met. At the end of the talk, according to one of the officials, Mr. Chen said to Mrs. Clinton: ‘I would like to kiss you,’ The Times wrote.

Both China and the United States seemed determined to prevent this issue from boiling into something larger, and overshadowing the talks between Clinton, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner and their Chinese counterparts, which are this week. But according to the Washington Post, Chinese officials expressed outrage at China’s meddling in U.S. domestic affairs.

“The U.S. method was interference in Chinese domestic affairs, and this is totally unacceptable to China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin was quoted in the Washington Post. “China demands that the United States apologize over this, thoroughly investigate this incident, punish those who are responsible, and give assurances that such incidents will not happen again.”

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