Chinese blind dissident may leave for US soon

New York University has announced fellowship to Chen Guangcheng with residential permit for his family.

Beijing: China`s blind dissident Chen Guangcheng is expected to leave for the US soon to join a fellowship programme in the New York University, under a deal struck between Beijing and Washington to end a messy diplomatic row.

Formalities regarding issuing passport to Chen and his wife and two children, whose entry into US embassy here overshadowed the two-day high level strategic and economic dialogue between the two countries this week, were expected to be completed in the next few weeks.

40-year-old Chen is reportedly confined in a hospital here, where he was admitted after being driven out by US Ambassador to China Garry Locke on May 02, after a week-long stay in the US mission.

Media entry into the hospital is restricted.

Initially, it was stated that he would stay put in China but he later openly sought asylum.

As the row erupted between the two countries, China, which initially took a hard stand demanding an apology from the US for allowing Chen into its mission, later relented and agreed to allow him to go, stating that he is free to go abroad for studies.

Speculation is rife that China may clear his travel papers in the next few days as it would like to see the back of the dissident, which officials say would fade like others who preferred to stay abroad to campaign for human rights in China.

China`s decision ensured smooth two-day dialogue attended by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothey Geithner.

Following the understanding, New York University announced fellowship to Chen with residential permit for his family.

Reports from New York quoted the university spokesman Jerome Cohen as saying that Chen would be a visiting scholar in the law school with a programme of study and lecture.

He could come next week or about a month, he said.

US officials said that visa formalities would be cleared as soon as China issues passports to Chen and his family.

Chen, a self-taught lawyer, fled house arrest in Shandong province on April 22 with the help of supporters from under the noses of dozens of guards and subsequently recorded a video alleging abuses against him and his family.

He had exposed how local authorities in Linyi, in Shandong province, forced thousands of women to have abortions or be sterilised as part of China`s mandatory one-child policy.

A Chinese court had sentenced Chen to over four years in prison in 2006 on charges of damaging property and "organising a mob to disturb traffic" in a protest.


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