A Chinese dissident who had been sheltering in the US embassy in Beijing has left and been taken to a hospital. The case could still overshadow a visit to China by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
A Chinese dissident who escaped from house arrest 10 days ago has left the US embassy in Beijing.
China's state news agency Xinhua reported that Chen Guangcheng had left the embassy "of his own volition" after sheltering there for six days.
An unnamed US official later confirmed that Chen had indeed left the embassy.
"Chen Guangcheng has arrived at a medical facility in Beijing where he will receive medical treatment and be reunited with his family," said the official who spoke to foreign news agencies on the condition of anonymity.
The official said Chen had left the embassy after US officials received assurances from their Chinese counterparts that he would be treated humanely after leaving hospital.
"When he leaves the hospital, the Chinese authorities have stated that Mr. Chen and his family will be relocated to a safe environment so that he may attend a university to pursue a course of study," the official said.
The official added that the Chinese authorities had agreed to let US embassy officials visit Chen in hospital. He is being treated for what were described as non-life-threatening injuries that he sustained after climbing over walls during his escape from house arrest 10 days ago.
The 40-year-old Chen, a blind, self-taught lawyer, suffered the government’s wrath after exposing forced abortions under China’s one child policy.
Chen’s presence in the embassy had threatened to overshadow a visit to China by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
She had arrived in Beijing a few hours earlier, where she is to scheduled to hold strategic and economic talks with the Chinese on Thursday and Friday.
Shortly after Chen’s departure from the embassy, there was no sign that Chinese officials were in a forgiving mood.
"The US method was interference in Chinese domestic affairs, and this is totally unacceptable to China,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin told Xinhua. “China demands that the United States apologize over this, thoroughly investigate this incident, punish those who are responsible, and give assurances that such incidents will not recur."
The unnamed US official hinted that Washington had likely provided such assurances.
"This was an extraordinary case involving exceptional circumstances and we do not anticipate that it will be repeated," the official said.
pfd/ncy (AP, dpa, Reuters)