Chinese Rights Activist: 'Hillary Clinton, This Is the Time to Deliver'

By Penny Starr | May 3, 2012 | 3:30 PM EDT

The Rev. Bob Fu, founder and president of ChinaAid, testified before the Congressional Executive Commission on China on May 3, 2012, about the fate of Chinese pro-life activist Chen Guangcheng. ( Starr)

( -- The Rev. “Bob” Xiqiu Fu, founder and president of the human rights group ChinaAid and a personal friend of Chen Guangcheng, the blind human rights activist, called on Thursday for Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to help Chen.

"Hillary Clinton, this is the time to deliver," Fu told a hearing of the Congressional Executive Commission on China on Thursday.

Rep. Chris Smith (R-N.J.), chairman of the commission, held the hearing to assess Chen's situation and what role the United States should play in securing his future.

Chen is now seeking to get out of China after leaving the safe haven of the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Until he surfaced at the embassy late last month, he had been under house arrest for his activities on behalf of women forced to undergo abortions and sterilization to comply with China's one-child policy.

Fu, who spoke to Chen by telephone on Wednesday, said Chen believes he is "in danger" and also feared for his wife and two children.

Fu said that attempts to reach Chen by telephone so he could speak with Smith before the hearing had failed. But, as Smith said, Chen "surprised the world" by calling the hearing while it was in progress.

Speaking through a translator from his hospital room, Chen said he was "really afraid" for his family. “I want to meet with Secretary Clinton, I hope I can get more help from her. I also want to thank her face-to-face."  Chen told the hearing that he wants to have his freedom of travel guaranteed -- and he wants to come to the United States.

Chen also told the hearing that his home is surrounded by video cameras and an electric fence. And now that he's been reunited with his wife and son,  he said his main concern is the safety of his mother and brother.

Smith told Chen his case is a "test" of China's commitment to protect him -- and "also the test of the United States as to whether or not human rights really do matter."

"You and your family and your supporters need to be on a plane coming to the United States for -- as you put it -- that rest that you so richly deserve,” Smith said.

Blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng. (AP Photo/Supporters of Chen Guangcheng, HO)

In his opening remarks, Smith said "Chen's comments portray the U.S. manipulating him, cutting him off from outside communication and encouraging him to leave the embassy rather than seek asylum." Smith, pointing to news reports, said Chen indicated "he was denied his request to call friends. He said he felt the embassy official had lied to him."

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) called on the Obama administration to grant Chen and his family asylum in the United States.

No Democrats attended the hearing.

Rev. Fu was one of the student leaders in the Tiananmen Square protests in China in 1989. His human rights organization is based in Midland, Tex.

The Congressional-Executive Commission on the People’s Republic of China is a congressionally-mandated, bipartisan panel made up of Members of the House and Senate and Presidential appointees serving in the Obama Administration. Smith held an emergency hearing in November 2011 to determine Chen’s unknown status.