'Obama focused on broad-based ties with China'
Washington: President Barack Obama is focused on advancing American interests in its broad-based ties with China and is not concerned at all on the issue related to a Chinese dissident, a top presidential aide said on Thursday.
Asked if the President was concerned about the GOP push-back on Chen’s issue, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters at his daily news conference: “I can assure you that the President is not concerned about political back-and-forth on this issue. He is focused on the need to advance US interests in our broad-based relationship with China - very important economic, diplomatic relationship with China.”
"He has and will continue to make it priority in that relationship, or part of that relationship, an open and frank discussion of our concerns about human rights. And that's his focus. It is absolutely in our national interest for us to pursue that kind of broad-based agenda with the Chinese," Carney said.
When asked on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, Carney said it appears that he has changed his statements.
"I can tell you, as you've seen in media reports, that it certainly appears that Chen and his wife have changed their views about what's best for him and his family," he said.
"I think, as State Department has made clear in the discussions that Chen had with officials, State Department officials at the embassy, he reiterated his firm desire to stay in China, to reunify with his family in China, to be relocated. And our efforts on his behalf worked in accordance with those wishes to try to achieve those goals for him in our consultations with Chinese officials," he said.
"His views have changed, as you've seen reported. But I can't comment on the ongoing discussions that he and his wife are having with State Department officials or those officials are having with Chinese officials," he said.
Carney said Chen made clear in his conversations with US officials in Beijing that he wanted to stay in China.
"(He) was very clear about that he wanted to reunite with his family in China and to relocate in China. Acting on that expression of his wishes, State Department officials negotiated with, consulted with Chinese officials and reached the agreement that was reached," he said.
"At no time did any US official speak to Chen about any physical or legal threats to his wife or his children, nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to State Department officials. US interlocutors did make clear that if Chen elected to stay in the embassy, Chinese officials had indicated to us that his family would be returned to Shandong and they would lose their opportunity, rather, to negotiate for reunification," he said.
"At no point during his time in the embassy did Chen ever request political asylum in the US. At every opportunity, he expressed his desire to stay in China, reunify with his family, continue his education and work for reforming his country. All of our diplomacy was directed at putting him in the best possible position to achieve his objectives," Carney added.