Why Did Blind Activist Chen Guangcheng Anger Chinese Authorities?
Although blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng has been cast into the international spotlight since his April 22 escape from house arrest and subsequent journey to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, he still remains an unfamiliar name - even to the majority of Chinese citizens, thanks to the country’s tight control of the press and social media.
On Friday, the U.S. and China seemed to have forged the outlines of a tentative deal to end the diplomatic standoff that would let Chen travel to the U.S. with his family for a university fellowship. In the meantime, Chen’s fate still hangs in the balance.
So what exactly did he do to anger Chinese authorities so much in the first place? It all began with Chen’s foray into social activism nearly 16 years ago, when he began fighting against the Linyi government.
Born on Nov. 12, 1971, Chen grew up in a small village called Dongshigu, near Linyi City in the eastern Shandong Province, approximately 400 miles from Beijing. He lost his sight after a severe fever when he was only a few months old.
He enrolled in Qingdao High School for the Blind in 1994 and graduated in 1998. It was during this time that he had his first experience questioning authority.