Ming Pao learnt from sources that Beijing has already approved Chen’s passport application. The passports will be given to him today and he and his family will immediately be sent to the airport to begin their journey.
At the same time, Beijing asked Chen to keep a low profile when he is abroad in exchange for lenient punishment to his nephew. However Chen and his wife said at dusk yesterday that they had not received notice of that.
Sent to airport as soon as passports are delivered at weekend to avoid media attention
Last Wednesday Shandong Provincial Department of Public Security sent an official to the hospital to handle the formalities for passport application by Chen and his family in an exceptional manner. Relevant officials said that the passports ought to be issued in 15 days. However, Ming Pao has learnt that Beijing has already decided to allow Chen to leave as early as today without further waiting.
Blitz issue of passports to avoid impact on June 4 anniversary
When the Chens have been given the passports, they will immediately be sent to the airport, but the specific timing has not been revealed. Such quick handling of the passport applications aims at making the Chens leave today, a Saturday holiday for media people. When they have learnt that, Chen will have already left China.
Sources say that Beijing makes blitz issue of the passports in its hope that the saga will end long before the sensitive anniversary of June 4 and its impact will not be so big then.
However, Chen’s wife Yuen Weijing told Ming Pao reporter in their telephone conversation that they had not undergone passport formalities until May 16 and only knew that they might obtain passports within half a month but not the exact date. She said, “Only when we have obtained our passport can we know when we will leave (for America). How can we know when we will leave since we have not obtained our passports yet?” Chen himself told Hong Kong’s TVB that he really did not know when he would leave.
Prudence in speech in exchange for lenient verdict for his nephew
In a separate news, America’s Radio Free Asia quotes informed sources that when the Shandong official visited Chen on Wednesday May 16, he had consultations with Chen on the detention of his nephew Chen Kegui. The official said that how Chen Kegui would be punished depended on Chen Guangcheng’s words and actions when he was in America. “If Chen fails to conform to his agreement with them, Chen Kegui will be severely punished… Otherwise, there will be lenient punishment.”
The source also says that Beijing has already given Chen special treatment in giving exceptional approval to Chen’s application and taking the initiative to send the application forms to Chaoyang Hospital and that Chen may arrive at America by about May 20.
RTHK reports later that Chen has learnt the hearsay that he may obtain the passports today the earliest, but so far he has not actually got them.
He guesses that the information comes from the department in charge of issuing passports, but he does not think that it is impossible for the hearsay to be true as it will be China’s official “Assisting the Disabled Day” tomorrow. Perhaps, Beijing wants to finish the matter before that day.
As for the report that his words and actions abroad may affect the case of intentional homicide his nephew Chen Kegui is accused of, Chen does not believe so because the development of Chen’s incident has already drawn attention from the community so that the authorities cannot do as they wish.
On the other hand SCMP‘s Verna Yu gives a report today entitled “Blind activist will fly to U.S. ‘in days’” but has not mentioned today. Yu says, “Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng, whose flight to the US embassy in Beijing last month caused a diplomatic crisis, will leave for the United States within a few days, according to two independent sources.”
We still have to wait and see which report is close to fact. Anyway, we certainly hope Chen may leave as soon as possible.
- The Mystery of Blind Activist’s Escape (chinadailymail.com)
- Chen Guangcheng’s brother describes beating by officials – The Guardian (guardian.co.uk)
- China agrees to issue a passport to blind activist (fmnnow.com)