A Reminder That It Will Be a While Before We Fully Understand the Chen Case

Headline from Keith Richburg and William Wan in the Washington Post just now, based on a phone call from Chen Guangcheng:


The story says:
In a telephone interview early Friday, Chen said he does not blame American officials for his plight after leaving the U.S. Embassy under a deal they helped strike. But he accused Chinese officials of reneging on their promises to fully restore his freedom.

This is worth bearing in mind as a counter to earlier, conclusive-sounding reports and politicized complaints that the United States had coldly sold out an idealistic, blind activist. These include Mitt Romney's claim that this is a "day of shame" for the administration.

This is a sad situation all around -- most of all for Chen and his family. As noted earlier, in fact neither the United States nor any other foreign country can control what the Chinese government does with its own citizens when they are on Chinese soil. Once he reached the embassy, Chen himself faced two bad alternatives: leaving the country, which he didn't want to do, or staying, with no enforceable way to ensure better treatment from authorities.

There is more to know about this case, and only harm to be done by politicizing it, rushing to judgments, or making this into a Chinese-U.S. showdown. That is guaranteed to hurt the people it is supposedly meant to protect, starting with the wholly admirable Chen Guangcheng.

[PS Also see posts by Helen Gao and Brian Glucroft.]