Blind activist: Officials threatened my wife

The blind Chinese activist at the center of a diplomatic tug-of-war between Washington and Beijing left the U.S. Embassy Wednesday morning to receive medical care and be reunited with his family. NBC’s Ian Williams reports.

Updated at 11:12 a.m. ET: BEIJING — Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist who sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, said Wednesday that he had been told Chinese officials threatened to kill his wife and that he now wanted to leave the country.

His comments, reported by The Associated Press, came shortly after Chen left the U.S. Embassy saying he had received assurances from Chinese authorities.  Chinese authorities have said they are very unhappy that the embassy took the activist in.

Chen, speaking from a hospital room in Beijing where he was taken for medical treatment, told the news service that a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities had threatened to beat his wife to death if he did not leave the embassy.   

He added that he now feared for his safety and wanted to leave.

A U.S. official denied knowledge of the threat, but said Chen was told his family would be sent back home if he stayed in the embassy.

Jordan Pouille / AFP – Getty Images

Chinese activist activist Chen Guangcheng (left) is seen in a wheelchair pushed by a nurse at the Chaoyang hospital in Beijing Wednesday.

Chen’s plight has overshadowed high-level talks on economic and international issues due to begin  Thursday. The United States hopes the negotiations will encourage greater Chinese cooperation on trade as well over Iran, Syria, North Korea and other international disputes.

In what earlier appeared to be a deal to end the diplomatic tussle between the U.S. and China over his future, Chinese authorities promised he would be relocated to a safe environment where he could study at a university, a U.S. official said, speaking prior to Chen’s comments.

Chen did not request asylum or safe passage to the United States, the official said earlier. 

China censors ‘Shawshank’ as Clinton heads to Beijing amid dissident drama

“This was an extraordinary case involving exceptional circumstances, and we do not anticipate that it will be repeated,” he said.

Chen, who went to the embassy after making a daring escape from house arrest on April 21, ran afoul of local government officials in China for exposing forced abortions and other abuses. His dogged pursuit of justice and mistreatment by authorities brought him attention from the U.S. and foreign governments, and earned him supporters among many ordinary Chinese.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — who arrived in Beijing Tuesday ahead of the talks that risked being upstaged by the drama over Chen — said that the case had been handled “in a way that reflected his choices and our values.”

She said it was crucial to ensure that Beijing kept its pledge to leave him unmolested, in comments made before Chen’s remarks that he feared for his and his family’s safety.

Chinese crackdown on dissident’s family and friends

“The United States government and the American people are committed to remaining engaged with Mr. Chen and his family in the days, weeks, and years ahead,” Clinton added.

Earlier Wednesday, Chen spoke to Clinton by phone, expressing his gratitude to her and saying in broken English that he wanted to kiss her, according to a U.S. official, who said the situation was “very emotional” for the staff involved.

China’s Foreign Ministry said Wednesday it was extremely unhappy the embassy had taken Chen in.

“It must be pointed out that the United States Embassy took the Chinese citizen Chen Guangcheng into the embassy in an irregular manner, and China expresses its strong dissatisfaction over this,” ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in a statement carried by China’s Xinhua news service.

Blind dissident’s case a ‘hot potato’ for US-China

“The U.S. method was interference in Chinese domestic affairs, and this is totally unacceptable to China. China demands that the United States apologize over this, thoroughly investigate this incident, punish those who are responsible, and give assurances that such incidents will not recur,” the statement said.

Chen’s supporters said last Friday that he had escaped after 20 months of house arrest and gone into U.S. government protection.

Relations between China and the United States could easily go awry, especially with the ruling Communist Party wrestling with a leadership scandal and a looming power succession.

More on Chen: Video reveals blind Chinese activist’s plight

“Of course, as the U.S. must realize, this does quite a lot of harm to China-U.S. relations,” Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University in Beijing, said of Chen’s flight into U.S. protection.

“In this situation, both sides want to restrict the impact of this (Chen) incident. But whether they can find a way to resolve the problem relatively quickly depends on how the dialogue and discussions go,” Shi added.

NBC News, staff, Reuters and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

More world news from and NBC News:

Follow us on Twitter: @msnbc_world

You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress | Designed by: Premium WordPress Themes | Thanks to Themes Gallery, Bromoney and Wordpress Themes