Diplomatic Briefing

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Commentary: An ugly day of US diplomacy

The State Department painted it as an elegant way out of a ballooning crisis involving Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng — but by day’s end, it looked like a disgraceful performance by US diplomats. Initial reports had Chen so pleased by the deal that he told Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, “I want to kiss you.” The agreement Clinton negotiated with Beijing yesterday supposedly allowed Cheng to stay in China and get medical attention, with the authorities guaranteeing his future safety. But things started unraveling just hours after the compromise was inked. First, while State claims Chen never wanted to leave China, the dissident said he and his family would rather leave. And it looks like he was all but forced out of the US embassy, where he’d sought asylum. Would Beijing have called off the talks if we’d just let Chen stay in the embassy or granted him and his family asylum? We’ll never know: Clinton opted to seek a deal. The State Department suggested that yesterday’s dramatic deal left all sides satisfied: Chen was escorted to a hospital by our ambassador in Beijing, Gary Locke, and reunited with his family. He thanked Clinton in a phone call. Then Beijing — while not denying the deal — demanded a US apology, saying America had “interfered in the domestic affairs of China, and the Chinese side will never accept it.” But then Chen gave the Associated Press an interview from his hospital bed — saying that a US official had told him that, if he stayed in the embassy or left for America, China wouldn’t let his family join him. Chen said he was told that “if I don’t leave, they would take my children and family back to Shandong” — and beat his wife. State denies Chen’s account, and maybe the heroic Chen truly misunderstood the deal. And, hey, China may well end up honoring its supposed vow to stop harassing him. But that’s an eventuality that America can no longer control. The only thing we know for sure is that the symbol of opposition to China’s “war on women” is no longer protected by America — and it looks like we tossed him to the wolves.

http://www.nypost.com/p/news/opinion/opedcolumnists/an_ugly_day_of_american_diplomacy_zC0L3TqHzEuq75wvxO1SAK

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