5 May 2012

Clinton leaves China in wake of Chen diplomacy

9:56 pm on 5 May 2012

United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has left Beijing after tense negotiations with China over the fate of the blind human rights activist Chen Guangcheng.

China has indicated that Mr Chen can apply to study in the United States as part of a deal to end the diplomatic incident.

The 40-year-old remains in a Beijing hospital under tight security after leaving the American embassy where he had initially sought refuge earlier this week.

The BBC's Michael Bristow says it was never likely that he would be allowed to leave China with Mrs Clinton, who received an offer by China on Friday to let Mr Chen apply to study overseas.

The United States says it expects China to move quickly to allow the dissident to take up a fellowship at New York University.

American diplomats have been allowed to talk to him at a Beijing hospital where he has been held since leaving sanctuary in the US embassy on Wednesday.

Mr Chen escaped from house arrest in a village in Shandong on 22 April and made his way to Beijing and sought refuge at the embassy, where he stayed for six days.

Mrs Clinton said US Ambassador Gary Locke spoke to Chen again by phone on Friday and he had confirmed he wanted to go to the United States to study, along with his family. An embassy doctor has been able to visit him.

State Department officials said it would allow Mr Chen's wife and children to accompany him to New York.

China earlier demanded an apology from the US for sheltering Mr Chen in the embassy.

A human rights lawyer, Jiang Tianyong, says both his ears were injured, and his left eardrum seemed to have ruptured, when police officers beat him about the head during an attempt to visit Mr Chen at the Chaoyang Hospital.