As trusted information is particularly difficult to ascertain vis-à-vis the blind Chinese activist who escaped house arrest to seek protection from the U.S., another Chinese activist, Zeng Jinyan, has become a trusted source of information surrounding Chen.
Zeng runs the twitter handle @Zenjinyan, where she's been tweeting out direct communications between her and Chen. Zeng, a Chinese activist herself, ran a personal blog and a vocal twitter while her husband, AIDS activist Hu Jia was jailed for three and a half years for "incitement to subvert state power," according to CNN. The Chinese government blocked her human rights blog in China and she herself was under house arrest in 2009. She last updated her blog over a year ago, but continues to tweet and claims she has spoken directly with Chen Guangcheng about his situation:
GUANGCHENG TALKED TO ME. WHAT MEDIA REPORTED IS WRONG.— zengjinyan (@zengjinyan) May 2, 2012
Not only does Zeng clarify that Chen asked to "meet with" rather than "kiss" Hillary Clinton, as some press has reported, she also has information on how she believes the Chinese government forced Chen to leave. This morning, as we noted, Chen left the U.S. embassy, with the A.P reporting that he had "received clear assurances" that he is now a free man. Yet, tweets from Zeng, as well as clarifications from @YaxueCao, another Chinese blogger and activist, who has translated some of her tweets, it looks like the Chinese government used Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing as a threat for him to leave the embassy.
Chinese government is holding family of CGC as hostages to make bargains with the US!— Yaxue Cao (@YaxueCao) May 2, 2012
@siweiluozi Yes the tweet says they would not allow CGC to see wife inside the embassy and used YWJ as a threat.— Yaxue Cao (@YaxueCao) May 2, 2012
Zeng has been a direct link between Chen and the press, which has had a hard time clarifying the details of the story, claiming she spoke with Chen and his wife on the phone. CNN's Austin Ramzey, the Beijing correspondent for Time, has talked with Zeng, confirming her tweets are real, saying it was a "big risk" to speak with him, per his tweets. From Ramzy via Zeng, we learn that Chen also attempted to make contact with The Congressional Executive Committe on China, "but was unable to." She also spoke with Matthew Lee of The Associated Press, who describes her as a "close friend" of Chen's. Again Zeng alleges the Chinese government threatened Chen's family. "Zeng Jinyan said she spoke by phone with Chen and his wife while he was in the hospital. A disappointed-sounding Chen told her that his wife's life had been threatened, she said," writes Lee. "'He said what he wanted was totally different but because no one can protect his wife and children' he had to accept, Zeng said via Skype," he continues. “'Jinyan, I’m afraid,'” Chen’s wife told Zeng over the phone, writes Time's Hannah Beech using information from Ramzy.
Zeng's latest tweets indicate she can't say too much more. Her latest post (translated by Google): "unable to cope with more things, please forgive me. Other cases, I can not say any more. Friends and journalists friends, family Guangcheng's situation, pointing to you. The future, I have something, also pointing to you."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.