Readers may be familiar with Chen Guangcheng, one of the bravest and noblest people on earth. We had a piece on him in a November issue of National Review (go here). Chen is the “blind peasant lawyer” in China who blew the whistle on forced abortions and sterilization. Since this act of exposure, he has been brutalized in all the usual ways — maybe beyond them. For the past year and a half, he and his wife have endured a torturous form of house arrest.
This week, an activist group has sounded an alarm:
Women’s Rights Without Frontiers has received credible reports that Chen Guangcheng is seriously ill, and other members of his family are languishing as well. . . . Chen was seen to take a few steps in the courtyard. “He looked pale and moved unsteadily. Only a few steps out of the door he fainted and fell to the ground.”
Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, also was recently spotted leaning against the interior wall of their courtyard, looking “skinny . . . it seemed that it was difficult for her to move her waist.” Yuan was driven back into the house by guards.
Etc. If Chen dies, I believe the American government should say something about it, loath as we are to offend the Chinese Communists. And if our “realists” squawk — let them.
Back in May 2010, we expressed guilt to Beijing, through our assistant secretary of state Michael Posner, over Arizona’s immigration law. (Yes.) The Chinese would never express guilt to us, or anyone else, over laogai, its vast gulag. American foreign policy and diplomacy can be downright perverse.
As we go about our usual gentle dealings with Beijing, would it kill us — just kill us — to spare a thought for Chen Guangcheng, and the many like him? I think America, commerce, and the world could survive it.