A diplomatic mess played out through a multimedia prism
May 4th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

A diplomatic mess played out through a multimedia prism

By Jill Dougherty reporting from Beijing

Throughout her nearly 24-hour journey from Washington to Beijing, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton avoided the cameras of journalists traveling on her plane.

For nearly a week leading up the trip - ever since the blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng had fled his village home and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing - both the secretary and her spokespersons refused to answer any and all questions about him, save a tight-lipped "We've got nothing on that for you."

But the U.S. officials did have someting, a full-scale diplomatic mess that would play out not just behind closed doors, but through the media and social media with every few hours bringing a new twist.

His arrival had been dramatic. A U.S. official speaking on background because of the diplomatic sensitivity of the issue said that embassy officials took a car to retrieve Chen after he fled. Their vehicle was tailed by Chinese security and the Americans took action to evade those vehicles. Embassy staff began preparing for a long stay by Chen, possibly even a year, as another activist had done more than 20 years previously.
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Chen's friend refutes earlier criticism of U.S. Embassy
Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng Wednesday at a Beijing hospital, where he received care for an injured foot.
May 4th, 2012
08:26 AM ET

Chen's friend refutes earlier criticism of U.S. Embassy

Update:  U.S. says Chen Guangcheng has been offered a fellowship to study in the United States and China will allow him to travel. See CNN's latest reporting on the Chen affair here

By Jill Dougherty

As criticism intensified over the Obama administration's handling of Chen Guangcheng's case, the State Department released a translation of his friend's Twitter post in which the Chinese activist denies he wanted political asylum and says he was not forced out of the U.S. Embassy.

The post by his friend Guo Yushan also says Chen wants to go to the United States "to rest for a few months."

Calling the existing Web translations of Guo's Twitter post "uneven," the State Department translation quotes him as saying he talked with Chen by phone after failing to reach him several times because "the line was always busy."

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May 3rd, 2012
02:34 PM ET

'Mission impossible' diplomacy in Beijing

By Jill Dougherty reporting from Beijing

Under the smoggy skies of Beijing an extraordinary diplomatic and personal drama is playing out in real time: What will be the fate of Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng, and what role will the United States have?

This drama has no script; new scenes, new acts are being written on the fly. Already it has featured what the U.S. ambassador calls a "mission impossible" effort with senior U.S diplomats bringing Chen - at his request - to sanctuary at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

The plot has twists and turns: Chen first said he wanted to stay in China to carry on his fight for human rights. Now, he tells CNN, he and his family fear for their lives and want to go to the United States.

He says he feels misled by U.S. officials, claiming he was not fully aware of the potential threats should he stay. The State Department counters by releasing photos of Chen as he made the decision to leave the embassy, showing what Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell called a "happy" and "excited" Chen.
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Chinese media and the 'showy' US ambassador
A screengrab from Sina Weibo shows the image of Gary Locke taken by a blogger named as TangChaohui_adSage.
September 26th, 2011
11:04 AM ET

Chinese media and the 'showy' US ambassador

By CNN's Jaime FlorCruz and Tian Shao in Beijing, China

Since taking up his post as America's new ambassador to China, Gary Locke has become an increasingly popular figure among ordinary Chinese.

Born and bred in the United States to Chinese immigrant parents, Locke's down-to-earth style immediately struck a chord with netizens when he arrived in the country in August.

A picture of him buying coffee with coupons at an airport quickly circulated in cyberspace the day he arrived in Beijing. After landing, the envoy and his family were snapped without a big entourage of assistants and carrying their own luggage.

They even took a minivan into the city, rather than an official embassy limousine, prompting many people to compare this with the perceived lavish spending habits and imperious attitude of some Chinese officials.

Last month, Caixin magazine published an investigative report about how a local government in Hubei province spent a whopping 800,000 yuan ($125,000) over several weeks to prepare for an inspection tour by a group of nine senior local officials.

The officials inspected Zigui, one of the poorest counties in China. The expose has since spread to the internet, prompting anti-corruption officials to call for an audit of how the money was spent and why so much was needed. FULL POST


Filed under: China • Diplomacy • Gary Locke • US Ambassador