White House Denies U.S. Officials Knew About Threat to Chen's Family

May 3, 2012 - 2:50 PM

Chen Guangcheng and Hu Jia

A photo of Chen Guancheng and dissident Hu Jia, taken sometime after Chen arrived in Beijing after escaping house arrest in Shandong province a week ago, has been posted on Internet sites supportive of blind activist. (Photo: ichenguangcheng.blogspot.com)

(CNSNews.com) – The White House evaded questions as much as possible about a Chinese human rights activist, but seemed to shed doubt on claims that the Chinese government threatened his family.

Questions about Chen Guangcheng, the blind activist opposed to communist China’s one-child policy that includes forced abortions, dominated the White House press briefing Thursday. One reporter asked if it was enough for the U.S. government for the Chinese government to say “trust us.”

“Let’s make clear, that was what Mr. Chen said he wanted throughout the conversations in the embassy,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said. “Acting on those wishes, U.S. officials – State Department officials – see the assurances, conveyed those assurances to Mr. Chen and there was an agreement.

“We also made clear we would continue to monitor his case and remain in contact with Mr. Chen and raise concerns about the case if there were concerns to be raised. Again, all in the context of what Mr. Chen wished,” he added.

Another reporter followed up, asking about Chen’s assertions that he was warned by U.S. officials that the Chinese government had threatened his family.

“That’s simply not the case. At no time did any U.S. official speak to Mr. Chen about any physical or legal threat to his wife or his children, nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to State Department officials,” Carney said.

“At no point during his time in the embassy did Mr. Chen ever request political asylum in the U.S., and at every opportunity, he expressed his desire to stay in China, be unified with his family, continue his education. All of our diplomacy was geared at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives. I’m saying there was no pressure of any kind placed on him by U.S. officials,” he added.

Chen is now begging the U.S. to help him leave China with his wife and two children. He would like his widowed mother to join them. He and his wife Yuan Weijing got a waiver from the one-child policy because of his disability, according to the Associated Press.

At one point, Chen initially agreed to let China relocate him and his family to the northeastern coastal city of Tianjin but says that would not be far enough away from their persecutors in eastern Shandong province to guarantee their safety.

Chen escaped from 20 months of abusive house arrest and eventually went to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. The United States and China reached an agreement for Chen to leave the embassy.

“I decided to leave” the embassy, Chen told The Associated Press late Wednesday. “But I felt very frustrated, especially over the threats to my family. They said if I didn't leave, they would take my children and family back to Shandong.”

“They broke into my house, and more than a dozen men pushed my wife to the ground and covered her in a blanket, then beat and kicked her for hours,” the AP reported Chen saying.