U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sets off Monday night on a trip that was supposed to be a routine checkup on U.S.-China relations.
Instead, she is flying into a firestorm after a high-profile dissident's daring escape from house arrest. The blind legal activist, Chen Guangcheng, is now believed to be under U.S. protection — and diplomats are scrambling to try to resolve the issue quickly.
On her first visit to China as secretary of state in 2009, Clinton emphasized other issues besides human rights.
With Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner due in China for economic talks that start on Thursday, the U.S. and China are rushing to avert a diplomatic crisis over the fate of blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.
A blind legal activist who fled house arrest in his Chinese village is under the protection of American officials, overseas activists said Saturday, putting the U.S. in a difficult position days ahead of a visit by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Chen Guangcheng, who has exposed forced abortions and sterilizations in villages as a result of China's one-child policy, escaped a week ago from his guarded home in Shandong province in eastern China. Chinese-based activists say he was driven away by supporters and then handed over to others who brought him to Beijing.