Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng left for the United States and a fellowship at an American Saturday morning after weeks of uncertainty over the future of his and his family's fate.
Chen, who escaped from a two-year stint under house arrest at the end of April, sought refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing, creating a diplomatic nightmare for both American and Chinese officials.
"We can confirm that Chen Guangcheng, his wife and two children have departed China and are en route to the United States so he can pursue studies at an American university," State Department Spokesman Toria Nuland said in a statement Saturday. "We are looking forward to his arrival in the United States later today."
After Chen agreed to be released from American custody, the Chinese government agreed to allow the blind lawyer, who is self taught, to come to the U.S. to continue his studies. He, his wife and their two children departed Beijing's airport headed for Newark Saturday amid strict security and a total block on reporters' questions.
The compromise, although a worrisome precedent for China, was a boon for both sides. Allowing Chen to study in the U.S. quashed Republican criticisms of U.S. embassy officials' decision to release Chen back into the hands of the Chinese Communist government with nothing but assurances for his safety. It also allowed the Chinese to avoid any further damaging implications to internal security Chen's activism could create in the future.
"We also express our appreciation for the manner in which we were able to resolve this matter and to support Mr. Chen's desire to study in the U.S. and pursue his goals," Nuland statement also said.
Chen will attend New York University Law School on a fellowship. The school agreed to reimburse the American embassy for the flight expenses from China and has already set up an faculty apartment for Chen and his family.
by RTT Staff Writer
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