The US, China and Chen Guangcheng

A blind Chinese dissident named Chen is reportedly taking refuge in the American embassy in Beijing. The timing is awkward because Secretary Clinton is scheduled to visit China tomorrow. So far, the administration has been tight lipped.

What should the Obama administration do? If possible, I’d like to see them grant him asylum and get him out of the country but I don’t know if that’s really feasible.

They will keep silent about it while the meeting is occuring in order to allow China to save face (something they’re really keen on). It will be quietly discussed behind close doors.

The problem isn’t just him, because his family and several close friends have also disappeared into custody.

The best solution is probably for an embassy doctor to perform an examination on Chen, “discover” a medical condition and suggest treatment in the US, accompanied by several family members for support. In all the commotion people forget to buy return tickets. That way China saves face since they’re showing concern for one of their citizens by seeing he gets the best care possible and everyone can pretend it has nothing to do with political asylum.

Unfortunately Chen himself seems to be completely set on not leaving China. He can’t live in the embassy, but just letting him walk out the door is not going to be an option either. Handing him over to China is not only going to give Romney ammunition but it’s really going to upset a lot of Obama’s own supporters. I think it’s ultimately how willing the Obama administration is to ship him to the US despite his wishes. At what point do you wash your hands of someone’s safety if they won’t take the best option available to them? There’s plenty of talk about China saving face, but it’s an election year in the US too. Obama is going to face heavy scrutiny from both sides over his decision here.

Chen has left the embassy and China is demanding an apology. I doubt that they’ll get a public one. Nor should they.

Guangcheng arrives in New York. He praises the Chinese government for showing “restraint and calm” in dealing with his situation.

Someday, China needs to wake up to the fact that as a Major World Player, their every action internally and externally is now up for scrutiny. No more of this “how dare you interfere in our internal affairs!” or “Other nations need to stay out of our blatant territorial grab in the South China Sea!” crap.

Well, right or wrong, I think people in any country tend to get their backs up when foreigners tell them how they should be doing things. See the incredibly stupid reactions in this thread from 2004. What’s so special about the U.S., anyway, that UN election monitors should not come here? What’s “illegitimate” about that?