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How a Blind Chinese Activist Escapes House Arrest

Details on how a blind Chinese activist under house arrest could escape and make it all the way to Beijing and, allegedly, to the American embassy have begun to emerge. He pretended he was sick.

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Details on how a blind Chinese activist under house arrest could escape and make it all the way to Beijing and, allegedly, to the American embassy have begun to emerge.

Chen Guangcheng reportedly faked being sick for long periods of time, so the guards assigned to guard his house would grow complacent. He started spending days at a time inside his house so the guards would be used to not seeing him. It was April 21 when Chen was left unattended, and the activist took the opportunity to scale the wall surrounding his house and escape. This is all according to Bob Fu, of the ChinaAid organisation. Guard apparently didn't realize Chen was gone until five days after he had made his escape.

"He did try to dig a tunnel but he scratched that plan," said Fu. "The successful plan happened when he was able to pretend he was lying on his bed." Once he was over the wall, Chen evaded guards before meeting with a friend who drove him into Beijing. He is allegedly being protected at the U.S. embassy, but the State Department still won't confirm Chen's location.

Concerns are also rising for Chen's friends and family, who are being rounded up by the Chinese government. Chen's wife and daughter remain under house arrest, and other family members have either been detained, or officials are looking for them. He Peirong, a friend of Chen's who apparently drove him to Beijing, is believed to have been detained by Chinese authorities. Another activist, Hu Jia, was picked up by Chinese officials on Saturday after saying he spoke with Chen after his escape. Hu was released by authorities on Sunday.

Mitt Romney issued a statement on Sunday urging the Obama administration to “take every measure” to protect Chen and his family. "Any serious U.S. policy toward China must confront the facts of the Chinese government’s denial of political liberties, its one-child policy and other violation of human rights," he said in the statement, and added, "Our country must play a strong role in urging reform in China and supporting those fighting for the freedoms we enjoy."

It's easy for Romney to say that when he wasn't invited on the two-day diplomatic talks Hillary Clinton and Timothy Geithner are about to have with China this week. Diplomatic experts told The Guardian the two governments will likely downplay the talks until the end of the week so it won't over shadow other issues. Nicholas Bequelin, from Human Rights Watch, suspects China won't leave Chen alone, like he demanded earlier this week, and suggested the U.S. should take Chen and his family to America for "medical reasons."

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.