Home > Analysis, human rights, Opinion > Chen Guangcheng escapes, waging PR campaign with Western press

Chen Guangcheng escapes, waging PR campaign with Western press

(Update April 29, 2012: with response to Kai’s comment below. Update May 1, 2012: highlighting analysis done by reader perspectivehere in the comments section. May 5, 2012: Chen had dealings with the NED since 2004. See details below.)
From the Chinese perspective, the West’s willingness to go so far as to bestow the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize to a convicted criminal, Liu Xiaobo, really goes to show the level of religiousity in their pursuit of “democracy” and “human rights” against the Chinese government. China in recent years has started to use the phrase “judicial sovereignty” to more categorically deny Westerners attempt at meddling in China’s internal affairs. It is with such perspective I think most appropriate in understanding the likely outcome for recently escaped from house-arrest Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚).

Personally, I am saddened by Chen’s plight. Before his troubles began, Chen was in fact lauded in fighting for the rights of ordinary Chinese citizens. He successfully sued a Beijing metro, forcing the company to comply with new law permitting handicapped individuals to ride free on public transport. He was even featured on CCTV.

What is impressive is that his legal activism was based on Chinese law learned on his own. What makes him even more amazing is he did all that despite being physically blind.

Chen’s troubles began after he sued local Linyi officials for alleged brutalities in enforcing the “one-child” policy. While his suit was not accepted by the courts, that, however, prompted the National Population and Family Planning Commission to investigate, and in September 2005, some local officials were detained.

The “one-child” policy is very complex, and within China today, debate still rages on in terms of how to reform. Some even call for its abolition. Enforcement has been problematic, especially with the many changes in the policy over the last few decades. (For a detailed report, see this Global Times article, “Baby Steps.”)

To understand Chen’s case, it is important to have a broader perspective on that policy objectively. Lawrence W. Green wrote the following abstract for an article in the Journal of Public Health Policy which provides that:

After years of urging China to take more aggressive action to control its population, the United States government withdrew support from the United Nations Fund for Population Activities on the grounds that that agency supported China’s new policy. The policy provided for the achievement of a norm of one child per couple through economic incentives and rewards, and family planning services including abortion. Charges of forced abortion in the Western press led to withdrawal of the U.S. funds by the Agency for International Development. In this analysis of the policy and its implementation, the alleged incidents of forced abortion were found to be isolated cases of overzealous local functionaries trying to meet quotas. Publicity and public education surrounding the policy and campaigns to implement it provide the best assurances that most people would know that they have options and should not be subjected to coercion for abortion. The Chinese government has implemented new safeguards to prevent and punish cases of attempted abortion against the will of couples. 1

That perspective must be understood, for Western press frequently bashes China whenever the “one-child” policy makes news. For example, in The Telegraph’s latest article about Chen, it referred to the Chinese family planning policy as:

China’s draconian family planning policy

The use of negative emotive words like ‘draconian’ to describe everything ‘China’ or ‘Chinese’ in fact fits the larger pattern of a Collective Defamation in the Western press.

If you accept the propagandized view of the “one-child” policy as ‘draconian,’ then you are more likely to be biased towards seeing Chen’s fight, either to undermine it completely or to resist partially as nothing but ‘just,’ let alone against specific instances of brutal enforcement.

What transpired following Chen’s failed law suit? Well, some would in fact argue what Chen had done was already a success, since some Linyi officials were detained as a result of the investigation by the National Population and Family Planning Commission.

The blind legal activist started to engage with entities outside China, including TIME. This is likely where he might have run afoul with Chinese authorities.

In March 2006, Chen lead a public protest against local authorities, resulting in damaged properties, and was arrested. He was convicted and imprisoned. According to this Washington Post report, local Linyi authorities also charged him colluding with foreign anti-China forces:

Party sources said Linyi officials distributed a report in Beijing that portrayed Chen as a tool of “foreign anti-China forces,” accused him of violating the one-child policy and made much of the fact that he had received overseas funding for his work as an activist on behalf of the disabled. 2

After serving his sentence, Chen was put under house arrest. Christian Bale, with assistance from CNN, made headlines in the West while trying to gain access to Chen for which the network was criticized for making news.

Anyways, Chen is making headlines in the Western press again for having escaped Linyi few days ago. His whereabouts are still unknown.

Few facts have emerged, which I think is going to be damning for Chen as far as Chinese authorities are concerned. While this is circumstantial, Chen’s recent escape has been assisted with ‘activists’ linked to China Aid, where the NGO is funded by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED). This is the same organization that gave money to Liu Xiaobo. The purpose of NED is to foment political opposition in foreign countries by the United States.

It is also interesting that Chen has appeared with Hu Jia following the escape, who too ran afoul with Chinese authorities. And, yes, Hu was also a recipient of NED money.

Chen has made a video asking Wen Jiabao to personally intervene on his behalf. In the video, he recounts the brutality from Linyi authorities. The latest report from USA Today says he is under U.S. protection, and that high level talks are under way.

This leads to my final remarks; my speculation on what happened and my thoughts.

Between September 2005 and March 2006, there are not much information publicly available detailing what transpired. My guess would be that Chen likely received money from abroad, perhaps from the “China Aid” NGO which is funded by the NED.

Chen at some point realized he would be in a lot of trouble. His only recourse is to resort to a populist strategy – to get the Chinese public to sympathetize with him. If that fails, which is going to be the case, because the Chinese government censors, then he will have to rely solely on organizations like “China Aid” – and obviously on the Western press who gladly circulate his videos and always ready to speak against the Chinese government.

It seems Chen’s plight now rests on the outcome of the talks between the U.S. and China. The narratives, either in China or in the West will be certain though. Need I spell that out? 😉

[Update April 29, 2012]

This update is based on the following response from “>Kai, where he wrote:

YinYang, most people familiar with your blogging already know of your criticisms against:
1. Westerners voicing opinions about what happens in China;
2. Bias and prejudice against China in the Western media;
3. The raison d’etre and activities of the NED;
4. Chinese citizens labeled as “dissidents”;

Those are all worthwhile issues for discussion and even criticism, but I fear they’re being used here to conflate and muddy the issue, even poisoning the well.

What I and I’m sure quite a lot of other people are interested in reading are your views on whether or not Chen Guangcheng has been properly and lawfully (according to Chinese law, not foreign law or opinion) handled by Chinese authorities throughout all of this. Specifically:

1. Did he do anything wrong and illegal in suing Linyi authorities alleging compulsory sterilization and rare cases of forced abortion?
2. Did he do anything wrong and illegal in speaking to or engaging with foreigners?
3. What evidence for illegal speech or engagement with foreigners is there?
4. Why was he not charged with illegal speech or engagement with foreigners and instead charged with property destruction and obstruction of traffic?
5. Was his subsequent unofficial house arrest legal according to Chinese law?
6. Is escaping unofficial house arrest wrong and illegal according to Chinese law?
7. Is guilt by association and circumstantial evidence punishable under Chinese law?
8. Is receiving money or funding from abroad illegal under Chinese law?
9. What evidence is there for this funding being used for illegal purposes under Chinese law?
10. Is there something wrong and illegal with populist strategies under Chinese law?
11. Is there something wrong and illegal with foreign organizations and media speaking against the Chinese government according to Chinese law?
12. Has his rights and freedoms under Chinese law been respected, upheld, and protected by Chinese authorities?

The attention and opinions of foreigners is irrelevant to whether or not we can judge the legality of both Chen Guangcheng’s activities and those of Chinese authorities. Chen Guangcheng must abide by the laws of the nation he resides in. Chinese authorities too must abide by the laws of the nation they both reside and serve in. Moreover, the guilt or innocence of Chen Guangcheng has no bearing on the guilt or innocence of the authorities.

First of all, I disagree with Kai about those criticisms are conflating and muddying the issue. If there is any poisoning of the well, then the Western media have long ago poisoned the entire ground water. Even now, their narrative about Chen is unanimous and singular: Chen’s plight is the entire fault of Chinese authorities and there is no rational basis for what is happening. Opinions of foreigners do impinge upon the relationship, especially between China and the U.S.. They either pressure U.S. officials to take certain stance or escalate official United States foreign policy. What the Western press so far has failed to do is to look at how Chen is possibly used.

We should ask a simple question: why would Linyi authorities restrict Chen following serving his full sentence?

There could be corruption within the Linyi municipality. But, I don’t think the central government would allow Chen to be under house arrest for no reason. It is not that the central government is unaware of the issue.

I will repeat what the Washington Post wrote which I believe is at the crux:

Party sources said Linyi officials distributed a report in Beijing that portrayed Chen as a tool of “foreign anti-China forces,” accused him of violating the one-child policy and made much of the fact that he had received overseas funding for his work as an activist on behalf of the disabled.

Now, if the Western press care so much about transparency, then why haven’t they asked the National Endowment for Democracy whether they have given money to Chen? Why don’t they look into whether it was “ChinaAid” colluding with Chen to protest in March 2006? Certainly, I am speculating here, but not on groundless basis. As I have written above, “ChinaAid” seems to be intimately tied to Chen’s escape from house arrest.

ChinaAid’s mission is tantamount to undermining Chinese law, as they implicitly advocate for underground churches. Underground churches are illegal in China. China does not want religion to participate in politics. China does not want religious groups to align politically with the Vatican or any organization outside China.

It is also worthwhile noting the Washington Post’s narrative about what the local Linyi authorities are charging Chen with. ChinaAid would argue they are simply there to advocated “religious freedom,” but they won’t say in the process they are breaking Chinese law. Similarily, as Chen was featured on CCTV for advocating rights of handicapped persons on public transport, it is preposterous for the Washington Post narrative to say that he would simply get into trouble for receiving foreign money to do the same.

In combating terrorism, American citizens have largely accepted detention of “enemy combatants” at Guantanamo. One may ask under what law? I am not so sure if Americans understand the legality of it. However, what is clearly a rational view is that many of the detainees had or possibly had connections with Al Qaeda. Those individuals could harm America, and hence the public supports their detention. (Some may argue there’s opposition to Guantanamo. Sure, as there are supporters of Chen in China too. However, such voices are in the minority, because Guantanamo is still there.)

Liu Xiaobo was convicted by the Chinese courts for attempted subversion of state power, which is a very serious crime in China. On similar grounds, I don’t think the Chinese government would be bashful in restricting Chen.

At a personal level, as I stated above, I am saddened by Chen’s plight. Chen and his wife’s recount of the brutish treatment their family received, if all true, is indeed a testament of how bad things can still be in China. I have seen the video they smuggled out around the time of the CNN/Bale confrontation.

I also should point out about the moralist hypocricy that exists in the Western press. Imagine if we have as many articles written about brutally killed Iraqi and Afghan children as are for Chen? Can we imagine CNN bringing activists to confront a NATO operation in Afghanistan where children were killed? Imagine if we have as many articles written about the plight of the Libyans following the bombing of NATO since the rebel faction have taken control of that country?

Now I will answer each of the questions Kai raised:

1. Did he do anything wrong and illegal in suing Linyi authorities alleging compulsory sterilization and rare cases of forced abortion?

Of course not. However, his suit was not accepted. That suit might have been too broad or denied for any number of reasons. We don’t know. To suggest that a Chinese citizen for merely attempting to sue can be viewed as illegal in China is naive.

2. Did he do anything wrong and illegal in speaking to or engaging with foreigners?

Local Linyi authories alleged him colluding and receiving funding from abroad to undermine China’s one-child policy.

3. What evidence for illegal speech or engagement with foreigners is there?

I haven’t seen any.

I find it interesting that Western journalists in China thus far haven’t gotten Linyi authorities to speak. Equally interesting is why they haven’t pressed the NED whether one of the NGO’s they have funded were involved with Chen.

The Chinese media have largely been censored from covering Chen. I can see the Chinese position that they don’t necessarily have to indulge in certain infatuations that the Western press so happens to be fixated on.

4. Why was he not charged with illegal speech or engagement with foreigners and instead charged with property destruction and obstruction of traffic?

Fair question.

I don’t know, and I hope too one day China gets to a legally ‘matured’ society like the U.S. where charges are clearly stated. But as I have noted above, Guantanamo is a clear example even in such a society whom I just put on a pedestal, can have its excesses. At least Chen is not being water-boarded, chained, or locked up in solitary confinement.

5. Was his subsequent unofficial house arrest legal according to Chinese law?

This really comes down to how much the Chinese government as a whole believes in local Linyi authority’s allegation that Chen was “colluding with anti-China forces.”

6. Is escaping unofficial house arrest wrong and illegal according to Chinese law?

Is escaping from your kidnapper illegal? Of course not! Your question presupposes the allegations false. How did you know?

7. Is guilt by association and circumstantial evidence punishable under Chinese law?

Normally I wouldn’t think so, but when it comes to national security issues, I think every country exercise with certain amount of excess or precaution. Again, witness Guantanamo. And, again your question presupposes the allegations false.

8. Is receiving money or funding from abroad illegal under Chinese law?

Receiving funding from abroad is not illegal. Witness the number of foreign funded NGO’s in China doing many great things! Receiving funding from organizations abroad to do illegal activities in China is of course illegal.

9. What evidence is there for this funding being used for illegal purposes under Chinese law?

What’s the point of this question while both you and I know that the Chinese authorities have not divulge this information? Well, at least I haven’t been able to find thus far.

10. Is there something wrong and illegal with populist strategies under Chinese law?

I am not sure what you mean by this.

David Li, who is (or will soon be) on People’s Bank, China’s central bank, policy committee recently commented that Bo Xilai’s policies in Chongqing is populist. He is using public funds to dish out short-term benefits to the population. That makes him popular, but he is not making the necessary reforms that are fundamental to the progress of the municipality.

I would argue the Chinese government see populism as a cancerous side-effect of some democracies. Bo Xilai is a serious test case where the current leadership have decided to make an example of.

As relates to Chen, I think it’s possible his March 2006 public protest was a populist strategy to counter what the local Linyi authorities were about to charge him with.

Pop stars engage in populist activities all the time. So, obviously, populism per se is not illegal. Context matter. I am not certain what you are trying to imply with this question.

11. Is there something wrong and illegal with foreign organizations and media speaking against the Chinese government according to Chinese law?

Is this a trick questions? The way you have asked, who would say “yes?”

Collective Defamation in the Western press against ‘China’ and ‘Chinese’ is a serious matter which this blog spends a great many articles on.

I would add, even domestically, American media in the U.S. polarizing the population is cancerous to American society. What the U.S. media have done thus far is legal (I think), but is that necessary good for society? Many Americans would say no.

12. Has his rights and freedoms under Chinese law been respected, upheld, and protected by Chinese authorities?

Looking at the smuggled video from February 2011, I believe some of his rights were likely not upheld. I personally yearn for China to become better than what Chen and his wife have alleged – some of which we can clearly see in the video.

In summary, I will simply quote what reader hehe had just said below:

I doubt that people shouting at each other about CGC’s case actually have the full set of information available before they are determined to make a case for/against him/his case. The truth is likely to be somewhere in between I dare to say, i.e. CGC is neither a devil nor an angel. I would pay particular attention to the context in which CGC transferred himself/was transferred from a citizen rights advocate into a political dissident icon of China.


  1. Lawrence W. Green, “Promoting the One-Child Policy in China,” Vol. 9, No. 2 (Summer, 1988), pp. 273-283, Journal of Public Health Policy
  2. Philip P. Pan, “Chinese to Prosecute Peasant Who Resisted One-Child Policy,” Saturday, July 8, 2006, The Washington Post, http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/07/07/AR2006070701510.html?sid=ST2010090903263
  1. Robert Thomas
    May 8th, 2012 at 08:12 | #1

    It could be possible that the comment was written by someone posing as Wayne. Was an announcement made to this effect? Did any other users complain?

    What about yinyang? Look at how he responded to the offensive, hate-inspiring, homophobic post:

    ‘I don’t see it in terms of 『progress.』 But I suppose you could see it that way. I simply think Chinese society is much more respectful for plural views. That’s what gives me hope; not to descend into a state where people with such different orientation gets killed as we see elsewhere.’

    There is no mention, whatsoever, of the offensive content of the post. At this, I was shocked.

  2. hugh thomas
    May 8th, 2012 at 08:23 | #2

    Well should you be shocked, Sir! It’s a Nationalist site – as Lime says. Love it – or Leave it!
    Before you leave, take your duck feather boa with you, back to where you came from, to hide your naked Little shame! Goodbye!!

  3. May 8th, 2012 at 08:34 | #3

    Folks, this person indeed is not Wayne. Probably Raj. Hugh Thomas is probably Raj too. IP address and fake email is in our log.

    Wayne :

    We need to hunt that guy down and anally gang- rape him! Whose with me?

  4. Robert Thomas
    May 8th, 2012 at 08:49 | #4

    yinyang, I must refer you back to my post (301). You have explained that the poster was impersonating another user, but you have not explained your response.

    Frankly, I am concerned.

  5. May 8th, 2012 at 09:13 | #5

    @Robert Thomas
    Of course, violence and hate are wrong. We don’t condone that.

    If we don’t address everything in a comment it doesn’t mean we agree or disagree with the rest. It just means we don’t find it interesting to respond to all of a comment. That’s the nature of these forums.

    We do appreciate you bring to our attention.

    Anyways, there’s been too many trolls lately. We are trying to figure out how to put an end to that nonsense.

  6. Robert Thomas
    May 8th, 2012 at 09:44 | #6

    Thank you for your reply.

    Do you have a policy on offensive comments and moderation, if so, where can users access this?

    I hope you can see that if offensive comments are not criticised, moderated or removed, it may appear that the moderators of the site either agree, or are not willing to disagree, with such comments.

    The issue of trolls, as I understand, is a problem for many sites. Unfortunately, this can sometimes result in genuine users being incorrectly labelled as trolls.

  7. May 8th, 2012 at 13:37 | #7

    @Robert Thomas
    In response to your comment below, then expose them all you want. I didn’t notice you jumping on that troll who pretended to be Wayne and spouted such homophobic nonsense either. Do I then judge you?

    Look, we are not here to be kindergarten teachers and grade every single comment. When the mods are online and we see stupid stuff, we will dump them into the spam queue. Take a look at the vitriol in the WSJ, NYT, the Economist, Youtube. They are everywhere. That’s the nature of these forums.

    I hope you can see that if offensive comments are not criticised, moderated or removed, it may appear that the moderators of the site either agree, or are not willing to disagree, with such comments.

    Again, we are not going to babysit.

    Now, if you still have issues, I suggest you go to the Open Forum. This thread has been distracted long enough with this issue.

  8. Sleeper
    May 20th, 2012 at 07:20 | #8

    Media is a weapon. He who controls media controls hearts and minds. Unfortunately, China is vulnerable againt media blitz from the west. During this year I was understanding why Chinese government setting up media censorship, especially on the internet (I’m talking about the “GFW”. Luckily this blog isn’t banned, for I’m leaving comment in China XD).

    It’s not shame for China that setting up media censorship. It’s shame for China that she could only barely implement “pure defence”, for she’s not able to engage western media actively.

    Although CGC incident is less than a drama and not as important as expected by “some people”, it still exposed the fact that China is no match for the western media……I’m already sick of reading foolish comments such as “the victoty of freedom”, “a dagger in CPC’s heart” in Chinese blogs.

  9. perspectivehere
    May 20th, 2012 at 09:59 | #9

    Using “blind lawyer” as a search term in Youtube turns up several videos posted about CGC.

    But the search also turns up a video entitled “The Lawyer and the Blind Sheik – USA” that is worthwhile to watch.

    It describes the case of Lynne Stewart, now a 72-year-old grandmother with breast cancer sentenced to 10 years imprisonment in 2010 over alleged crimes conducted in her representation of a convicted and notorious terrorist leader, the “Blind Sheikh”.

    According to Wikipedia, throughout her legal career, “Stewart has represented a number of economically disadvantaged clients as well as more high profile cases. Stewart is a self described “movement lawyer” who took a wider interest in promoting the general political interests of those she represented, rather than only dealing with the specific charges against them.”

    She has represented members of the Black Panthers and the Weather Underground.

    “Stewart says that all her high-profile clients share the distinction of being revolutionaries against unjust systems or people whose cases expose those injustices. However, unlike most movement lawyers who found communications with prosecuting attorneys to be repugnant, former assistant US Attorney Andrew McCarthy, found Stewart “eminently reasonable and practical” and commented that “when she gave her word on something, she honored it — she never acted as if she thought one was at liberty to be false when dealing with the enemy.”

    The New York Times reported on her appeal in March.

    The New York Law Journal has an extended article about her case.

    Apparently, she was sentenced for 10 years because of what she said on the courthouse steps after her trial in 2005. According to her lawyer, “Lynne Stewart was unfairly punished for free speech when comments she made after sentencing outside the courthouse helped persuade a judge to more than triple her prison term in 2010” because they showed she had a “lack of remorse”.

    The LA Times wrote a good editorial urging for her appeal to be considered: Lynne Stewart: 8 more years for mouthing off – The lawyer’s remarks after her conviction in a terrorism-related case didn’t justify a big increase in her prison sentence.

    We frequently see the English-language press referring to CGC’s conviction by the local authorities as “trumped up charges”. Would the media be correct in characterizing the unjustified sentence for Lynne Stewart in the same way?

    Perhaps her supporters will draw strength from the US Government’s support of CGC to argue that it would be incongruous for the US to keep Lynne Stewart in prison while gaining freedom for CGC.

    There is a committee formed for her defense – “Justice for Lynne Stewart”, and website devoted to her cause: http://lynnestewart.org/

  10. colin
    May 21st, 2012 at 11:36 | #10

    Beautiful. If we extend the CGC analogy a bit, LS should take refuge in the Chinese embassy and Fudan should extend her a fully paid fellowship and have visa’s arranged.

  11. Sleeper
    May 21st, 2012 at 13:20 | #11


    I don’t know whether I can forward this story to Chinese forums (such as Tianya) to make some arguement……

  12. Zack
    May 21st, 2012 at 16:28 | #12

    If the US insists on providing aid and comfort to such anti Chinese agitators, then it’s only a matter of time before someone in Beijing decides to play the game.

  13. colin
    May 21st, 2012 at 17:05 | #13


    When it hits their pockets, Americans obviously stop drinking the rhetoric kool-aid.

    China may be on to something. Round up all the troublemakers and make them America’s problem to feed them. And what else did China extract out of the US in this deal? Ka-ching!

    “Chinese activist who fled house arrest lands in US: Where he was welcome with Free Healthcare, Free Room and Board, Free Money, Free Education = Free Free Free while Laughing at the American Tax Payers who will finance him”

    Like I’ve said before, as a cynic, I really admire this guy. Who’s playing who for a fool?!

    And one too funny not to share:

    “The joke is on him! The jobs are all back in China..”

  14. Zack
    May 21st, 2012 at 22:57 | #14

    the Elites in the US will not hesitate to throw good money at any act they perceive will undermine their foes and enhance their own position; i’m laughing at how much it’s backfiring on them. THey tried to make the CGC incident into a propaganda vehicle, only to have their own citizens opine quite loudly how crappy their own living conditions are, freedom or no freedom.

  15. Charles Liu
  16. pug_ster
    May 25th, 2012 at 09:54 | #16
  17. mugenaw
    May 26th, 2012 at 11:44 | #17

    Interesting opinion. Maybe a bit conspiratory but it gives opposite point of view regarding unanimous argument protesting china’s unfair treatment of CGC’s case from western world. Be objective and always prepare to accept different opinion. Don’t let your mind controlled without your own thought. One thing I want to point out is that even though CGC is innocent civil right activist, everyone here criticized the government for kind of self-satisfactory justice push him to become a dissident. There are more people suffered from unfair and illegal treatment in china, such as families victimized from Bo Xilai’s reign. Why don’t American speak for these people and sent someone to help those victims? Because western media told them to do it.

  18. pug_ster
    June 1st, 2012 at 13:57 | #18


    Chen GuangCheng is really a village idiot wearing a suit. This is an interview with him, in the Council of Foreign Affairs of how of why can’t he even refer something within the Chinese law, constitution or terminology to back up what he says. Instead, he seems to be complaining about his ordeal of being jailed, and having personal vendetta against allegedly people who treated him poorly, Wen Jialbo, and other party secretaries.

    Edit: I have to take it back. He did mentions about some article in the constitution. This is what he says: You read it to see if he has alot of knowledge of the Chinese constitution, or is he some kind of village idiot.

    CHEN: I think that Article 5 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China says at the beginning that the country should be ruled according to law and to build a country with rule of law. Article 5 is that all political parties, all social organizations should — et cetera — all have to operate within the limits of the constitution. That is to say Article 5 is already clearly telling us that there are legal provisions. So why should these — party — why should the party not observe the law? I still have to study that.

    Their monitoring of the party — there’s not enough monitoring by the people. If they break the law, they don’t get into a lot of trouble. They may — they can break the law because they can get away with it. If breaking the law brings you a lot of problems, then they will control themselves.

    One of the funny things about this interview is that one of the person was asking Chen about self-immobilations of Tibetans and he totally skirted the questions and complained about his abuses.

  19. tc
    June 1st, 2012 at 15:51 | #19

    NPR called him a “lawyer”. Can he practice law in China? or anywhere?

  20. Zack
    June 1st, 2012 at 16:45 | #20

    CGC is a ‘lawyer’, in much the same way that Dr Phil is a ‘doctor’.

    We’ll see if CGC is true to his word and is willing to return to China; if not he’s just another traitor who deserves a traitor’s death

  21. 383843556
    June 13th, 2012 at 18:12 | #21

    Chen, a self-taught lawyer, is familiar with domestic law but not necessarily knowledgeable about international law. No matter how hard the US tries to justify itself, it is an inescapable truth that the US government has made a mistake. It has broken international laws and Chinese laws and interfered in China’s internal affairs. For this, the US owes an apology to China.

  22. 383843556
    June 13th, 2012 at 18:20 | #22

    Even the Americans know they are crooked and blackmailed by this blindman. But they have to pretend to support him for the purpose of votes in this election year.

  23. 383843556
    June 13th, 2012 at 18:27 | #23

    He has been admitted into the New York University to study law. But how is he going to do that? He can’t speak any English at all, let alone understand technical books and terms! And how did he get admitted without passing the relative admission exams?
    Let me see; he advocates for a more equal and just system……except when it applies to him!

  24. Hong Konger
    June 17th, 2012 at 19:39 | #24

    Please, even Xinhua has deleted its ridiculous call for an apology. The Chinese press kept tripping over itself trying to sound harsh on the Chen case, then retracting everything.
    At the end of the day, China looked terrible here — torturing the young family of an honest self-taught man just because he spoke up against local thugs and cruelty, and doing such a bad job protecting him that a foreign power had the chance to rush in to be the good guy.

    I’m glad Chen is at NYU. Not everyone reaches education in the same way.
    How cool that someone born poor and disabled in rural China could teach himself to read, and teach himself enough law to actually argue and win cases in Chinese courts? (Which he did, earlier on, against Shandong thugs)
    Maybe he never had the chance for formal education. But his personal achievement points to an even higher level of intelligence than some rich kid who had the help of tutors and law school.
    Top schools often let in people who have achieved something great without necessarily going through the traditional channels.
    Top schools often also let in foreign scholars even if they don’t have the English skills.
    Even among normal Chinese students, a large number arrive without fluent English — and U.S. schools give them an extra years of language training before they start regular classes.

    Why the bitterness towards Chen? Why does it anger you so that someone poor and uneducated managed to make his way in this world?
    If the Chinese government decided they liked him (as they did years earlier, when he was lauded as a hero of the people), would you have a different opinion?

  25. Wahaha
    June 18th, 2012 at 18:54 | #25

    ….I’m glad Chen is at NYU. …


    Hong Konger,

    Please stop embarrasing yourself.



    Do you consider their opinions are the opinions of American people? if they are, why didbn’t the fucking self-claimed “free” media let their voices heard, huh?

    It is really shameless of you talking about freedom, while it is obvious you agree with whatever the “free” media said without using a single brain cell of yours, or do you have brain cell?

  26. perspectivehere
    July 1st, 2012 at 10:07 | #26


    Will the Blind Lawyer Help the Blind Sheik and His Lawyer?

    Here are some interesting questions for the law students at NYU School of Law to discuss this coming fall, with the arrival of CGC, the Blind Lawyer, in their class.

    NYU sees itself as a Global Network University, so these questions are especially pertinent.

    As a result of the recent presidential election in Egypt, Mohamed Morsi, the president-elect, announced to supporters in Cairo’s Tahrir Square on Saturday that he would work to free Omar Abdel-Rahman, the “Blind Sheikh”, who was convicted in US Federal Court of “seditious conspiracy” in the bombing of the World Trade Center in New York City, as well as conspiring to assassinate former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

    Part of Abdel-Rahman’s activities were linked to raising awareness of the human rights violations in Egypt. Abdel-Rahman’s supporters believe that Mubarak had put pressure on the US government to put Rahman behind bars.

    Now that Mubarak is no longer in power, will the American government free both Abdel-Rahman and his lawyer, Lynne Stewart, who is serving a ten-year sentence, arising from her alleged crimes committed while representating of Abdel-Rahman?

    Abdel-Rahman was not actually found to have directly had anything to do with the bombing of the WTC itself. He was convicted using a rarely-used 19th century statute called “Seditious Conspiracy”, which the NY Times described as an “obscure 19th century law”:

    “THE TERROR CONSPIRACY: THE CHARGES; A Gamble Pays Off as the Prosecution Uses an Obscure 19th-Century Law”

    “At the outset of its seditious-conspiracy case against a blind Muslim cleric and 11 of his followers, the Government was thought to be taking quite a gamble in pinning its hopes on an obscure 19th-century law that makes it a crime to “conspire to overthrow, or put down, or destroy by force the Government of the United States.”

    Before yesterday, Federal prosecutors said, the last time seditious-conspiracy charges had been brought successfully was in 1987, against a group of Puerto Rican nationalists in Chicago. In two seditious-conspiracy cases in the late 1980’s, one in Arkansas and one in Massachusetts, jurors acquitted all the defendants.

    A person can be convicted of seditious conspiracy without the Government showing that the defendant committed any specific act to further the conspiracy. This is a departure from other conspiracy laws, like the racketeering statutes that are often used against organized-crime figures.

    The law’s broadness can work against the prosecution. It gives the defense room to tell the jury — as it did in this case — that the defendants are being prosecuted for nothing more than their political or religious beliefs, and for offhand statements that reflect no real criminal intent.

    But in the case of Sheik Omar Abdel Rahman and his nine co-defendants (two others pleaded guilty shortly after the trial began), the prosecution may have calculated that it would help to cast their case in political terms, linking the defendants to Middle East terrorism.

    The sedition law presented other advantages for the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Mary Jo White, and her aides. It allowed them to charge defendants, like the Sheik, who did little more than talk about the plot with others. According to Federal law enforcement officials, until the defendants’ indictment in August 1993, many prosecutors and F.B.I. officials said that the Sheik could not be charged unless he could be tied to a specific criminal act, but that Ms. White was determined to include him in the case and saw the seditious-conspiracy law as the way to do it.

    And with a maximum penalty of 20 years and a $250,000 fine, the law allowed prosecutors to seek much stiffer penalties than were available for most of the crimes, like explosives charges, that were included as pieces of the conspiracy.

    The law has historically been used against groups with unpopular views. It was enacted after the Civil War, intended for use against Southerners who rejected the authority of the Federal Government, and amended in 1918, with Socialists and anarchists in mind.

    The law has been assailed by defense lawyers as overly broad and an infringement of the right of free speech, an argument that legal experts say can give grounds for appeal after a conviction.”


    According to Wikipedia, the crime of Seditious Conspiracy consists of this:

    “If two or more persons in any State or Territory, or in any place subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, conspire to overthrow, put down, or to destroy by force the Government of the United States, or to levy war against them, or to oppose by force the authority thereof, or by force to prevent, hinder, or delay the execution of any law of the United States, or by force to seize, take, or possess any property of the United States contrary to the authority thereof, they shall each be fined or imprisoned not more than 20 years, or both.”

    “For a seditious conspiracy charge to be effected, a crime need only be planned, it need not be actually attempted. The federal government has never won a sedition case against militia-types, white supremacists, or neo-Nazis. Since World War I, they have won numerous seditious conspiracy cases against Puerto Rican independentistas, communists and others on the left, but no one on the radical right has ever been convicted of plotting to overthrow by force of arms the government of the United State.”


    The law sounds pretty vague and it’s surprising given U.S. jurisprudence that anyone can be convicted of violation of the statute, which essentially seems to be criminalizing political speech.

    Given the “war on terrorism” it seems that anyone can get convicted of just about anything these days.

    Frankly I don’t know much about this case, but a few minutes’ search shows that critics of the US government’s case against the Blind Sheik calls the charges under which he was convicted “trumped up” – the same way supporters of CGC refer to the Chinese local government’s case against CGC.

    And with the Blind Sheik’s lawyer, Lynne Stewart, behind bars for 10 years, their cases really raise a lot of questions about judicial independence in the US — that the US government’s “War on Terrorism” trumps justice so that both the Blind Sheik and Stewart were put away on “trumped up charges” which ordinarily would not result in a conviction.

    The Blind Sheik is imprisoned in North Carolina, while Lynne Stewart is imprisoned in Texas. What if the Blind Sheik or his lawyer Lynne Stewart pulled a CGC and escaped from their captors, and make it to the embassy of a foreign country in Washington DC, like the Egyptian embassy, and the Egyptian ambassador protects them and negotiates for their release.

    How would Americans feel about about Americans or foreigners who would assist either of these figures to escape from confinement? How should the US government deal with Americans or foreigners that aid either to escape from confinement and make it to a foreign embassy? Would it be lawful for the foreign embassy, in the name of freedom and justice, to shield them from the US government? Would it be lawful for the Egyptian Ambassador to negotiate for their release?

    Doesn’t the case of CGC’s escape in China suggest that supporters of Abdel-Rahman and Lynne Stewart should try to help Rahman and Stewart escape, because they believe that Rahman and Stewart are held unjustly?

    That is to say, that as long as supporters of a jailed person believe that he is jailed unjustly, that they would be justified to try to help him escape? So if members of the Islamic Brotherhood went to the US, met Rahman and Stewart outside prison walls, hid them from the police, and drove them to Washington DC, in the name of freedom and justice (as they understand it), then they should not be punished? Would the US Government be justified in stopping them, and punishing those who helped them to escape?

    How would the US media react to this?

    What would be the difference in these cases and what happened to CGC and the US consulate? I would think these kinds of questions get to the heart of what it means for countries to follow “the rule of law”, and how international relations should be handled.

    As for CGC himself, I wonder if he will support the causes of Abdel-Rahman and Stewart, given that, like him, Abdel-Rahman is blind, and Lynne Stewart is a lawyer who takes on unpopular, politically charged defendants. Will the Blind Lawyer support the Blind Sheik and his lawyer? Will he regard them as kindred spirits? Will the Blind Sheik’s supporters seek help from the Blind Lawyer?

    Think of the media frenzy that such a story could generate. Imagine a Time Magazine cover with the Blind Lawyer and Blind Sheik in matching Ray Bans?


  27. July 1st, 2012 at 22:34 | #27

    In my view, CGC has thus far in fact tried really hard to not be “anti-China.” Have you had chance to see his Q&A hosted by Cohen? I can see that in the audience, there were so many “human rights” purveyors foaming at their mouths hoping he’d condemn the Chinese government wholesale.

    Anyways, after seeing that Q&A, I think he may turn out to be a true Chinese patriot. Will be interesting to see what comes of his positions. For now, I’d bet the Western press will be tired of him soon enough. Like Liu Xiaobo who has already been exploited, such folks are left forgotten. We might see a few Op-Ed’s from CGC in the coming years, and that’d be about it.

  28. December 21st, 2012 at 10:03 | #28

    Some background on CGC. Actually he was not popular with his villagers.

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