Beijing: Freedom has a sweet flavour and it tastes sweeter if it comes after years of captivity. So, when liberty came to Chen Guangcheng after years of house arrest, guess what the Chinese activist had to say to Hillary Clinton: "I want to kiss you."
The 40 year old activist who had been under harsh house arrest, evaded security guards and had taken shelter in US embassy in Beijing on April 22. He was driven out of the embassy today only after Chinese officials guaranteed that no further legal issues will be directed at Chen and that reports of mistreatment against him by police will be investigated, say US officials.
US Secretary of State Hillary, who is in Beijing for high level strategic talks with China, congratulated Chen over phone as he left for a hospital for treatment where he was reunited with his family.
"I was glad to have the chance to speak with him today and to congratulate him on being reunited with his wife and children," Clinton said in a statement.
Hillary said she is "pleased" that American officials were able to facilitate his "stay and departure" and asserted that they would continue to "engage" with him.
Chen expressed his pleasure in Chinese by thanking Hillary and saying that he was very grateful to her for all the support she had bestowed on him. Then in an emotional outburst he said, “I want to kiss you”, said a US official on the condition of anonymity.
Chen also told Clinton that though he was happy to see his family he was "prepared for the struggle ahead", the official said.
Chen has "a number of understandings with the Chinese government about his future, including the opportunity to pursue higher education in a safe environment," Hillary said reminding to Beijing to respect the reported understanding reached with the human rights activist.
"Making these commitments a reality is the next crucial task. The United States government and the American people are committed to remaining engaged with Chen and his family in the days, weeks and years ahead," Clinton said.
Chen Guancheng has suddenly become a pivotal link in US-China ties as the issue had stirred a lot of uneasiness between the two countries with China demanding an apology from the US for meddling in its affairs.
Though it’s not the first time, US has been involved in Chinese affairs.
Before this, in February Wang Lijun, a vice mayor in Chongqing in southwest China, fled to a US consulate for a day and denounced his boss, Bo Xilai, and Bo`s wife, Gu Kailai, whom Wang accused of killing a British businessman, Neil Heywood.
A self-taught lawyer, Chen has been blind since childhood. He irritated authorities by exposing a campaign of sterilisations and forced abortions, some late in women`s pregnancies, to meet quotas under China`s one-child-only policy.
With PTI inputs