Briefly, it looked as if a there had been a resolution to the Chen Guangcheng situation that appeased all sides.
So long as he left the US Embassy, where the blind activist lawyer had sought refuge since his escape from house arrest, Chen and his family were promised safety and humane treatment. The US, which helped negotiate the deal, appeared to have upheld its values, and China was able to save face.
But no sooner did that storyline coalesce than it started to unravel.
Activists fear that Beijing won't live up to its end of the deal, and the US won't have a way to enforce the agreement. The reasons Chen gave up American protection are in question, since it was reported he was threatened by Chinese officials.
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"It doesn’t seem that there have been any private assurances made to Chen by Chinese government officials concerning his safety since he left the Embassy, only threats," Elizabeth C. Economy, director for Asia Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, wrote by email Wednesday.
"In addition, we still haven’t seen any public confirmation that Beijing is planning to live up to its part of the bargain — just a number of condemnations of US actions."