Chen Guangchen, is a human rights lawyer who went blind as a child, and his arrest by the Chinese government would launch one of the most intense and improbable negotiations in the history of U.S.-China relations.
Chen, famous for his work on behalf of the victims of China’s one-child policy, had been imprisoned for four years, then placed under house arrest by the Chinese government.
In 2012, Chen managed to escape his heavily guarded house by foot, was chased down by the Chinese government in a manhunt that involved a car chase, broke his ankle during his escape, and still managed to seek asylum at the U.S. embassy in Beijing
Chen’s request for help to the US embassy in Beijing had hit the embassy like a rocket, setting off a flurry of secure calls among officials in Beijing and senior State Department officials in Washington. They weighed various scenarios, the possible diplomatic fallout with the Chinese, and the consequences for high-level meetings planned for the following week between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and China’s top leaders
Describing the moment Chen was safely in the US Embassy in Beijing, Hillary Clinton, in her memoir Hard Choices writes:
“Leaning on the Ambassador’s arm and clutching Kurt’s hand, Chen emerged from the barracks and walked slowly to a waiting van. Once he was safely inside, Jake dialed me from his cell phone and handed it to Chen. After so many stressful days of waiting and worrying, we had the chance to talk at last.
‘I want to kiss you,’ he said. At that moment, I felt the same way about him’”