Friday, May 4, 2012

China says Chen Guangcheng can Apply to study abroad, As US Diplomats continue to be Prevented from meeting him in Person

Beijing (CNN) -- China said Friday that the Chinese activist at the center of a diplomatic storm has the right to apply to study abroad after he told U.S. lawmakers that he wants to leave his homeland for the United States.

If Chen Guangcheng wants to go overseas to study, "as a Chinese citizen, he may apply like other Chinese citizens according to the laws and normal procedures of the relevant departments," Liu Weimin, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry said in a statement posted on the ministry's website.

The statement appeared to offer a possible solution to the complex crisis over the future of Chen, which has generated a flurry of negotiations between Chinese and U.S. officials and overshadowed a long-planned visit to Beijing by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for economic talks.

The Chinese comments came as U.S. diplomats spoke by phone with Chen, who is currently in a Beijing hospital. The officials also met with Chen's wife, Yuan Weijing, in person, according to a senior State Department official.

The U.S. officials had been scheduled to visit Chen as part of the deal worked out between the United States and China under which Chen left the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, where he had taken refuge for six days after escaping from house arrest.

It appears to be the second day in a row that U.S. diplomats have been prevented from meeting with Chen in person.

Chen said earlier Friday that U.S. Embassy officials had told him that Chinese security personnel had stopped them from entering his hospital room on Thursday. Read More