After his James Bond-like escape from house arrest with a broken foot in the dark last spring, blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng slipped to the U.S. embassy in Beijing -- and special arrangements took him to asylum at NYU Law School. And now Chen is being asked to leave NYU.
Chen Guangcheng is the blind civil rights advocate from rural China who escaped house arrest in April 2012 and fled to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton negotiated his temporary stay in the U.S. to study law at NYU. I interviewed him recently.
Overall, the Obama Administration has shown a lack of enthusiasm to engage human rights issues around the world and has a mixed, if not poor, record of supporting pro-democracy dissidents such as Chen.
The degree to which Chen Guangcheng has put the planet's two most powerful nations in uncomfortable positions and forced a delicate diplomatic dance reflects, in part, the rising power of activists and protesters.
With the eyes of the world watching, China must allow Chen and his family to live in freedom. Critically, the nation must also heed widespread calls to repeal the One-Child Policy, whose victims are largely voiceless.
Our instincts are to cheer on Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng and use this case to dramatize the flagrant human rights abuses that occur in modern China. However, we must not sensationalize this affair.