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Escaped Chinese Dissident Chen Guangcheng Poses Diplomatic Challenge for U.S.

Chinese embassy guards march into the US embassy compound in Beijing on April 27, 2012, amid unconfirmed reports that blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng was currently at the US embassy.

Photo by GOH CHAI HIN/AFP/GettyImages

America’s record on fighting for freedom and human rights gets very complicated when dealing with its biggest global partner—and rival.

Days after famous blind human rights activist from China Chen Guangcheng escaped house arrest, U.S. and Chinese officials are negotiating a possible deal for asylum. The legal activist, who drew the wrath of the Chinese government for bringing attention to forced abortions in the country’s rural areas, scrambled over a wall at his home and is now under the protection of American diplomats in Beijing.

European Union leaders, Mitt Romney, and even actor Christian Bale have been outspoken about the need to protect Chen, who reportedly wants to stay in China despite fear of abuse from authorities, who after his escape took several of the activist’s family members into custody. But with an already-tricky diplomatic relationship between the two countries, exile may be his only option.

Video produced by Paca Thomas.