Rights Activist: Administration ‘Willing to Sacrifice’ Chinese Dissident for ‘Unimpeded Trade Talks’

By Elizabeth Harrington | May 3, 2012 | 6:19 PM EDT

Chen Guangcheng with his son Chen Kerui and wife Yuan Weijing in Shandong province. (AP Photo/ China Aid Association)

(CNSNews.com) – The Obama administration is evidently “willing to sacrifice” Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng to facilitate unimpeded trade talks with Beijing, a human rights activist charged Thursday.

The administration’s “true values” were emerging in its handling of the case, said Reggie Littlejohn, founder and president of Women’s Rights Without Frontiers – a group that campaigns against China’s “one-child” policy.

Littlejohn joined fellow rights advocate and former Tiananmen Square movement student leader Bob Fu at a press conference at the Heritage Foundation, in urging the administration to grant the blind activist asylum in the U.S.

After the event, CNSNews.com asked Littlejohn to comment on the administration’s approach to tackling China on its human rights violations, given Vice President Joe Biden’s remark last year that he was not “second-guessing” the one-child policy.

“I think that the administration, their protestations regarding human rights are really empty and I think that when Vice President Biden said that he understands the one-child policy—that he’s ‘not second-guessing’ it – he was actually stating the real position of this administration,” she replied.

“And I think that the true values of this administration are coming through in this Chen case, in which they are completely willing to sacrifice one of the human rights stars of the world in order to make the way for unimpeded trade talks.”

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Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner are leading a U.S. team participating in the annual U.S.-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue in Beijing this week.

Asked why she consider the two issues to be connected, Littlejohn noted that Chen had hold Bob Fu that American officials had been “very insistent” that he should leave the U.S. Embassy in Beijing on May 2.

“It was a very particular day, which is the day that Hillary Clinton was there in order to do these trade talks. Why else would they be so insistent on that date if there wasn’t some kind of a connection?”

Chen escaped from house arrest in his home village in Shandong province on April 22 and several days later sought refuge at the embassy. He stayed there for six days before leaving under an agreement that U.S. officials said would allow him to live freely in China and be reunited with his family.

Hours after Chen left the embassy for hospital treatment, however, he voiced fear for his family’s safety and called on Clinton to help him and his family to leave China for the U.S.

During the press conference Littlejohn and Fu both called on Clinton and President Obama to do “whatever it takes” to grant asylum to Chen, his wife and two children.

“I believe the United States has very seriously mishandled this entire situation,” Littlejohn said.

“People in China would say that the U.S. Embassy is the safest place in China and those people who share our values are feeling extremely betrayed by us right now, that we have basically handed over a great national hero into the hands of the Chinese Communist Party, from within our own embassy,” she added.

The only way to undo the “untold damage” caused to the reputation of the United States as a human rights defender would be to grant “asylum for Chen and bring his family to the United States.”

Chen has endured seven years of harassment, including house arrest, reported assaults on him and his wife, and a four-year prison term, after he exposed cases of coerced sterilization and forced abortion by local officials enforcing the coercive population-limitation policy.

On a trip to southwest China last August, Vice President Biden said he would not “second-guess” the policy, saying only that it is not viable economically.  “Your policy has been one which I fully understand – I’m not second-guessing – of one child per family,” he said.  “The result being that you’re in a position where one wage earner will be taking care of four retired people.  Not sustainable.”

After criticism from Republicans Biden’s office said in a statement, “The Obama administration strongly opposes all aspects of China’s coercive birth limitation policies, including forced abortion and sterilization. The vice president believes such practices are repugnant.”