China, U.S. Are Likely Bargaining Over Missing Blind Activist Chen Guangcheng
Despite speculation that missing Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng has found refuge in the U.S. embassy, there’s no official word from either side.
The situation has complicated the prospects of a coming visit to China by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
CBS News correspondent Celia Hatton reports that Chen Guangcheng is one of China’s most wanted men, and he could be hiding in the most sensitive place: the American Embassy in Beijing. The blind legal activist escaped house arrest last Sunday, and there is no official confirmation of his whereabouts.
Illiterate until he was 20, Chen gained fame as a self-taught lawyer, fighting government corruption. His biggest case was a lawsuit against the use of forced abortions to uphold China’s one-child policy. The 40-year-old’s outspoken ways landed him four years in jail, then 19 months of house arrest with his wife and family.
Hired thugs frequently beat Chen and his wife, with their six-year-old child as a witness. Two months ago, Chen and his wife agreed he needed to escape, even trying - and failing - to dig a tunnel to freedom.
Then, somehow, Chen connected with a network of activists and possibly a compassionate guard. Last Sunday night, Chen made his getaway. He walked for hours, apparently alone, evading three rings of guards. His contact, He Peirong, then drove him 300 miles to Beijing.