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Chen Guangcheng comes to the US, but what about other dissidents?

Chen Guangcheng’s flight to New York Saturday marks a major step in difficult and delicate negotiations between Beijing and Washington. But it also spotlights the difficulty other activists face under a government regime and a system of local authority many view as repressive.

By Staff writer / May 19, 2012

U.S. Ambassador to China Gary Locke talks with blind activist Chen Guangcheng in Beijing on May 2. China has allowed Chen to travel to the United States, where he will study law at New York University.

US Embassy Beijing Press Office/Reuters

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Chen Guangcheng’s flight to New York Saturday marks a major step in the difficult and delicate negotiations between Beijing and Washington over the Chinese activist’s future.

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But it’s unclear how long Mr. Chen will stay in the United States or if he’ll be allowed to return to China. And Chen’s release from what had been house arrest and what he says were threats and abuse involving his family also spotlights the difficulty other activists face under a government regime and a system of local authority many view as repressive.

"Chen's journey to the United States would not have been possible without his own valiant character, the courageous support of his family and friends and the robust voice of the international community that never stopped working on his behalf,” Frank Jannuzi, head of Amnesty International's Washington D.C. office, said in a statement Saturday.

 “But while Chen and his immediate family are safe, Amnesty International continues to be concerned about those in China who share his quest for justice, for they remain in serious jeopardy. Countless people, known and unknown, are subject to arbitrary detention, beatings and other forms of repression,” Mr. Jannuzi said.

 “While Chen starts a new beginning, many continue to languish in despair,” Jannuzi added. “The international community needs to show the Chinese people that it is on the side of human rights and basic dignity by continuing to push China to end the intimidation and abuse of its people." 

SEE ALSO: 6 famous dissidents in China

Others express similar concern.

“For decades America’s managers of China policy have accepted the implicit demand of China’s rulers that they, and only they, are ‘China.’ In diplomatic lingo, ‘the Chinese’ view on anything – trade, Taiwan, Tibet, Syria, cyberwarfare, even human rights – is the view of the ruling circles, no matter how much it might diverge from currents in popular thought,” Perry Link, professor emeritus of East Asian studies at Princeton University, wrote in a letter to the New York Times this week.

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