Chen Guangcheng misread Washington politics [Global Times]

June 20, 2013

Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese activist, has been asked to leave New York University (NYU) by the end of this [m]onth after staying for one year.

Chen showed his dissatisfaction to the public, claiming that NYU is under “unrelenting pressure” from China, and “the work of the Chinese Communists within academic circles in the United States is far greater than what people imagine.”

NYU on the other hand, said that they felt “discouraged,” and that Chen’s statement was “false and contradicted by the well-established facts.”

Jerome Cohen, the professor who had suggested Chen accept the offer to be a visiting fellow at NYU, was annoyed by Chen’s remarks, saying that Chen “should not bite the hand that feeds you.”

Chen went to the US in May last year as a visiting fellow at NYU, which was actually a provisional form of “political relief.” Chen’s lack of academic qualifications and language competence meant he could not stay long-term. His embarrassing situation mirrors the fate of many Chinese “pro-democratic activists” in the 1980s.

Chen has been in the spotlight of Western public opinion, with his blindness a special perk [sic] for this kind of treatment. But Chen’s statements to the public gave himself away. His shallow understanding of the rules of Western politics and overestimation of his own value to the West are making his requirements more embarrassing to the US.

As a diversity-oriented society, the US embraces all kinds of political figures. So these Chinese dissidents mistakenly flatter themselves when they think they will be a “treasure” in Washington when they get to the US.

Chen’s understanding of both China and the US stems from his own experiences and feelings, which gives him an incomplete image of Sino-US relations. In fact, as one of the chess pieces used in the US’ China policy, he, like the others, is not given as much value as he expected. Chen was never going to be the “exception.”

China and the US are not [sic] enemies. Cooperation between the two will ensure that those radicals who want to see a confrontation between China and the US will not get their wish. They will feel depressed by the US’ “irresolute attitude” toward China, and feel “betrayed” because the US government “abandoned them halfway.”

It is the fantasy about their own value that “abandoned” them. These dissidents who went overseas will realize that cooperation with China is what prevails. After being “consumed” in a one-off manner, they will turn out to be cumbersome assets of the West. Without a total transformation, they will face a dead end. And for the people around them, more guidance and less agitation will help them find the right path.

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