Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Friday that she was “encouraged” by the Chinese government’s suggestion that blind dissident Chen Guangcheng could apply to study abroad.
“Progress has been made to help him have the future he wants,” Clinton said at a Friday news conference in Beijing, the BBC reports.
Earlier on Friday, the Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying that Chen, who escaped house arrest and says he wants to “rest for several months” in the U.S., could proceed “through the normal channels” to travel overseas.
“Chen Guangcheng is currently being treated in hospital. As a Chinese citizen, if he wants to study abroad he can go through the normal channels to the relevant departments and complete the formalities in accordance with the law like other Chinese citizens,” the statement said, according to The Associated Press.
(PHOTOS: Chen Guangcheng)
A self-taught lawyer, Chen is under guard in a Beijing hospital and unable to see U.S. officials since leaving the six-day shelter of the U.S. Embassy. Contrary to earlier reports, Clinton said that embassy staff, including a doctor, have met with Chen.
Chen has increasingly become a diplomatic — and political — headache for the Obama administration, yesterday calling into a congressional hearing to say he wants to come to the U.S. but not to seek asylum.
“He wants to come to the U.S. for some time of rest,” activist Bob Fu, who translated Chen’s remarks for the hearing room, said. “He has not had any rest in the past 10 years already.”
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