If China allows activist Chen Guangcheng to leave with his family, it will be an individual victory unlikely to usher in better treatment for other dissidents.
The manner in which Chen Guangcheng's associates have been treated the past few days seems to have convinced him that he and his family can feel secure only outside China’s borders.
Chen Guangcheng's statement that he wants to leave China has complicated high-level talks between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Chinese government.
Chen Guangcheng is asking to leave China with his family and go to the United States; his decision comes in the midst of a high-level meeting in Beijing between Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Chinese officials.
Activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng left the US Embassy in Beijing on Wednesday of his own volition, US and Chinese officials said, but reports quickly surfaced that he changed his mind.
To protect his family, the blind legal activist agreed to leave the safety of the US embassy and stay in China, a trusted friend of Chen Guangcheng told the Monitor.
Chen Guangcheng is now sheltering in the US embassy.
Hu Jia, a prominent Chinese political activist, was released after 3-1/2 years in prison. Under the terms of his release he will not be able to speak to media for one year.