AGENCE FRANCE PRESSE
BEIJING: The United States should “take necessary measures” to prevent a repeat of the Chen Guangcheng incident, China said today, after a diplomatic row with Washington.
Beijing last week demanded that the US apologise for sheltering the blind activist, who fled house arrest last month for the US embassy.
“The US should draw a lesson with a responsible attitude, reflect on its policies and moves and take necessary measures to prevent similar incidents,” said foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei.
Chen’s flight from under the noses of dozens of guards made headlines around the world and embarrassed the Chinese government, which accused Washington of interfering in its affairs.
The activist left the US embassy shortly after the arrival of US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in Beijing last week for key talks.
The affair overshadowed the annual US-China Strategic and Economic Dialogue and sparked outrage in Washington, where lawmakers of the rival Republican Party accused the administration of leaving the activist in harm’s way.
On Friday, Washington said Beijing had indicated it would allow Chen to travel abroad, but it remains unclear when that might happen.
Publicly, authorities in Beijing only said Chen is free to apply to study abroad, like any other Chinese citizen. On Sunday Chen, who does not have a passport, told AFP he was confined to his hospital bed in Beijing, and had asked hospital authorities for help with the procedures for obtaining travel documents. He also said US diplomats were not given access to him. American officials have said that they have spoken to him by phone, and also met his wife, since he let the embassy last week.
Clinton has defended the US handling of the Chen case, and said Washington would “continue engaging with the Chinese government at the highest levels”.
“This is not just about well-known activists, it’s also about the human rights and aspirations of more than a billion people here in China and billions more around the world,” she said before she left Beijing.