Chen Ups and Downs


UPDATE:

Poor Chen Guangchen. His case is reportedly moving along, but the answers are not coming to some serious questions about Chen’s future. Will there be retribution for those who helped Chen escape? Will he actually be permitted to leave the country? How is his health? Apparently, the U.S. Embassy has abandoned Chen. It is difficult to get information, and many folks, apparently, have lost interest in Chen’s case. Thankfully, Jennifer Rubin is still on the case and files this report for the Washington Post.  There is one bit of ominous news in her story–a journalist trying to cover the story has been expelled from China.

There are more ups and downs to Chen Guangchen’s life right now than you’d find on a Coney Island roller coaster.  It seems that Chen’s fate is all or nothing now. Supposedly, he is going to be allowed to leave China. The latest report says that Chen may be allowed to leave with his family and attend New York University as a fellow.  That would definitely be the up-side to this dilemma.

Realistically, though, Chen may never leave China. His closest friends and counselors admit that Chen is afraid, even while more popular news accounts see light dawning which points toward his freedom from China.  Honestly, there are three aspects of this case which cause me to fear a down-side to Chen’s future.

First, the U.S. and human rights groups on the side of Chen’s release have given away much of their original bargaining power.  As this New York Times article points out, the Obama administration made some mistakes early in the process out of the hope of a quick resolution.  The initial mistake was allowing Chen to be taken to the hospital (out of the embassy control) without ensuring that U.S. officials would be given access to him.  Since Chen has been in the hospital, U.S. officials have been denied access.  A second mistake was made when the Obama administration turned Chen over to Chinese authorities without securing guarantees of safety for him, his family, and his close friends who aided in his escape.

As a result of a weakened position, the U.S. cannot realistically demand freedom for Chen’s colleagues. So, the second aspect of this case which I believe does not bode well for Chen is the fact that his extended family, friends, and colleagues are now in serious danger.  Even as it was reported that Chen originally agreed to leave the embassy because his wife was being threatened, so, now, Chen may again succumb to threats against those whom he cares for and loves. They remain in serious danger (as this article details).  There are reports that officials from Shandong province are in Beijing, following Chen’s family and waiting to take them back into custody as well. Consider this short paragraph from China Aid:

Chen’s frail mother remains detained, his brother Chen Guangfu and nephew Chen Kegui will be sentenced, and the netizens who helped Chen escape, like He “Pearl” Pierong, still face charges.  Also, famed human rights lawyer Jiang Tianyong was beaten on Friday morning for trying to visit Chen.  He reportedly has lost hearing after the beating.”

Third, thus far, the so-called agreement involves Chen being allowed to submit an application for study abroad.  Submitting an application for study abroad is a FAR cry from actually studying abroad. If this is all the promise that Chen is given by the Communist leaders in China, then Chen is not guaranteed anything.  Indeed, how awkward it would be for Chen to appeal to the very same authorities who have allegedly tortured and beaten him for the past two years in order to gain his release! Hopefully, the incident has been so public and so damaging to the Chinese government that they will decide their best option is to let Chen and his family leave China. (Side note here: For the last two years Chen has been unable to be with his son. His reunion with his son came only after he was taken to the hospital upon leaving the U.S. Embassy.

A hearing was held in the U.S. Congress today. C-SPAN has the video if you would like to watch.  Chen actually is telephoned during the hearing and speaks to the congressional committee about his case.

C-SPAN Chen Guangchen

Blind Unbelief: China and Chen Guangcheng


“Blind unbelief is sure to err…” so penned William Cowper in his final and perhaps most poignant hymn, composed in 1774.  Of course, Cowper wrote from a Christian perspective and, though he suffered terribly from depression, he understood that God’s ordering of and teleological purposes for creation would always prove wise and good in the end.  A nation whose laws adhere to these same basic truths is able to govern itself according to the wise and good end that God has built into creation.  That nation will prosper as it conforms to the actual reality of God’s creation. A nation which forsakes God’s ordering and insists on its own is—in Cowper’s words—sure to err.

Such is the situation presently in China.  As this Guardian story reports, China is presently reeling from its own, self-imposed moral crises. Having rejected God and God’s ordering of reality, the Communist government in China has been forced to implement its own.  As every Communist government eventually learns, enforcing your own reality is a monumentally cumbersome affair.  Have you ever tried to fly a kite when there is no wind? Communism requires intense effort and strict enforcement for its policies to fly through even a short space of human history. Most often, just as with the kite, Communism has face-planted into the ground. China is still struggling to fly without reality’s wind.

Blind unbelief refuses to acknowledge the eternal realities which happen to be imprinted indelibly in the human psyche (Ecclesiastes 3:11). Inevitably, then, Communism clashes not just with its own people, but with reality itself.  Such is the case in China today.  The blind unbelief of the Communist vanguard was usurped by the courage of a self-taught, barefooted, and blind lawyer named Chen Guangchen.

According to Chen’s friend (and Chinese human rights advocate) Bob Fu, Chen escaped from house arrest by climbing over a wall behind his house. He has found refuge now in a location described as 100% safe in Beijing. Chen had to navigate blindly both the back wall of his property and a small army of as many as 90 Communist guards, falling more than 200 times in the process,yet persevering to his victorious escape.  In his triumph, Chen has done more than embarrass the Communist government, he has exposed it.

Truth can be called error for only so long, and then it has a way of creeping back in as persistently as water seeps through a roof or light finds a way through the smallest crack in the door.  Truth persists.  If nothing else, the blind lawyer has forced the world to see the undying nature of truth.  The blind lawyer was able to see the reality of Communist impotence.  For Communism (or any totalitarian regime) to work, a certain view of reality must be imposed and enforced.  Dissent cannot be allowed because by its nature it dispels the reality of the darkness. When light enters a room, darkness disappears. Thus, the light of dissent is, as the Germans would say, verboten in Communist countries.

In China, the State expected to be seen as the benevolent supplier of human aid and the aim of all human effort. That dynamic only works insofar as the people succumb to the notion of the State as god. What happens when a blind man starts to see the inhumanity of the State’s actions?  If the State is god, then how can it err?  Chen believes, of course, not only that the State can err, but—more urgently—that the State grossly erred in forcing women to kill their babies for the good of China.

Chen exposed the barbarity of the forceful imposition of the inhumane idea that human beings are a burden on the resources of the benevolent State–and of the further idea that as the supplier of all resources, the State thus has the right to rid itself of such burdens.  Invading the eternal, God-created wall of human dignity, the Communist government breached the most intimate parts of its women and stole from them babies whose composition had been knit mysteriously together in what ought always to remain a protected place—the mother’s womb.

Ignoring the eternal wall which God enshrined, the State ran roughshod over its weakest people. With its legal and authoritative siege-works, the State breached these intimate, feminine walls. Chen could see the barbaric injustice of such an oppressive abuse against women.  So, he spoke. And, ironically, the Communist government thought it could silence eternal truth with its own man-made walls.  As Cowper said, blind unbelief is sure to err.