Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng will attend NYU Law’s US-Asia Law Institute as a visiting scholar, Professor Jerome Cohen confirmed today. “He’s clear that he’s coming to NYU,” Cohen, co-director of the Institute, told NYU Local in a phone interview today. “He would come here immediately.”
Chen, a blind human-rights activist, captured headlines recently after escaping house arrest and seeking asylum at the American Embassy in Beijing. Chen had been detained without charges since 2010, after spending the previous four years in jail.
Chen’s escape put the United States is a tricky diplomatic position. Sheltering Chen would strain an already tense relationship with the Chinese government, but releasing the blind activist back into custody was deemed unacceptable by American diplomats.
Last week, American and Chinese officials suggested that a solution has been identified. In a statement released by China’s foreign ministry, the government indicated that Chen could leave China to study abroad: “If he wishes to study overseas, as a Chinese citizen, he can, like any other Chinese citizens, process relevant procedures with relevant departments through normal channels in accordance to the law.”
To help make that happen, Professor Cohen has been speaking with Chen daily. Cohen also said that he has been working with officials at the State Department and within the Office of the Vice President in order to push the deal through.
At this time, Chen is waiting for China to grant him a passport. “When he gets those updates,” Cohen said, “he’ll be on a plane immediately.”