The prominent Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, who triggered a diplomatic incident when he escaped house arrest and fled to the US embassy in Beijing last year, says he has been asked to leave New York University following “great, unrelenting pressure” from Chinese authorities.
The university, which has hosted the blind, self-taught lawyer on a fellowship since May last year, has denied the allegations, saying his tenure was intended to last only a year. The New York Post, which reported the allegations on Thursday, linked Chen’s impending departure to NYU’s efforts to open a campus in Shanghai.
Blind since a young age and a self-taught legal activist, Chen Guangcheng rose to prominence for helping to expose harsh realities about China’s family planning policies.
His activism landed him in jail between 2006 and 2010 but even after he was released, Mr Chen and his family were placed under virtual house arrest at his home in Shandong province.
But events took a dramatic turn in late April 2012 when Mr Chen escaped from house arrest and sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing. He stayed there for six days sparking a diplomatic crisis with the US and only left on 2 May for a hospital.
Chinese guards march outside the U.S. embassy compound in Beijing. Photo by Goh Chai Hin/AFP/Getty Images.
The whereabouts of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng remain unclear Monday. He escaped house arrest in his village last week and reportedly sought asylum at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Kurt Campbell headed to China to resolve the matter before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner arrive later in the week.