Politico By SEUNG MIN KIM | 5/2/12 5:41 PM EDT
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said Wednesday he is “deeply disturbed” by reports that a blind Chinese activist seeking refuge at the U.S. Embassy was being pressured to leave – an account that administration officials are disputing.
Chen Guangcheng said in an interview with the Associated Press that a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities threatened to kill his wife if he didn’t leave the embassy in Beijing, where he had been hiding to avoid house arrest. He is an activist protesting China’s one-child policy.
“I am deeply disturbed by the most recent report by the Associated Press, which suggests Chen Guangcheng was pressured to leave the U.S. embassy against his will amid flimsy promises and possible threats of harm to his family,” Boehner said in a statement Wednesday afternoon. “In such a situation, the United States has an obligation to stand with the oppressed, not with the oppressor.”
Boehner also called on the Obama administration to pressure China to adopt various reforms – particularly ending the one-child policy, which Boehner called “reprehensible.”
“Having handed Chen Guangcheng back over to the Chinese government, the Obama administration is responsible for ensuring his safety,” Boehner said.
The State Department has refuted Chen’s account of events.
“At no time did any U.S. official speak to Chen about physical or legal threats to his wife and children. Nor did Chinese officials make any such threats to us. 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 to negotiate for reunification,” department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.