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Chinese official visits blind activist at Beijing hospital

2012/05/04 19:12:16

Taipei, May 4 (CNA) A Chinese official has visited Chen Guangcheng, a blind human rights activist who escaped housearrest, at a Beijing hospital, according to the Voice of America.

The report said that a department head, sent by Beijing authorities, visited Chen's ward and presented him with flowers.

The official told Chen that he was assigned by the central government to visit Chen, who injured his foot while escaping from house arrest in Shandong late last month. Chen sought protection at the U.S. embassy in Beijing for six days before leaving for medical treatment.

The official also said he was authorized to speak with Chen about his complaints, and promised that if they proved true, they would be seriously addressed.

Reports said that Chen will continue to receive treatment at the hospital for some time before arranging his next step.

Chen was cited as saying that he was unable to obtain information about some of his family members and was worried about their safety.

Chen also called on the public to give more attention to several friends who had helped him escape house arrest and he expressed the hope that they were safe and sound.

In a statement issued Friday through his friend Guo Yushan, Chen said he had left the U.S. embassy out of his volition.

The activist said he never told the media that he wanted to seek political asylum, only that he wanted to go to the United States to rest for a few months.

Meanwhile, a Chinese economist said in the United States on Thursday that there are many big issues between China and theUnited States, and they should not let the Chen case become an irreconcilable problem.

Mao Yushi Man advocate of human rights and personal freedom who will be presented with the Milton Friedman Prize for Advancing LibertyFriday, was asked about his views on Chen at a seminar in WashingtonD.C. on Thursday.

But Mao told CNN that he knew very little about the Chen case, saying there were few reports coming out of China and although he had obtained some information on the Internet, it was hard to tell whether it was accurate.

He said that he believes transparency of China's legal system is important, as it would help protect human rights.

China has continued to engage in political reforms in recent years, but its political reforms have been lagging far behind itseconomic reforms, he noted.

Human rights will always be a major issue between China and the United States, not only in the case of Chen Guangcheng, Mao said.

However, China has made strides in the sphere of human rights, as evidenced by the fact that it is not killing political prisoners and has been allowing greater freedom of speech, Mao said.

He pointed to his own freedom to speak without any pressure as an example of the changes in China.

(By Tsai Su-jo, Lin Shu-yuan and Lilian Wu)
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