President Barack Obama should negotiate “one on one” with Chinese leaders to ensure the safety of a dissident’s family against government authorities, presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney said.
The human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who is blind, last week escaped house arrest in Shandong province, where he had been held since his release from prison in 2010. In a video posted on YouTube on April 27, a man who resembled Chen said he was concerned his “wife and son are still under the devilish hands” of authorities.
Obama needs to convey to Chinese leaders that “there should be a real effort on the part of the Chinese government to make sure that the abuses that have been described against Mister Chen’s wife and his family stop immediately,” Romney said today on CBS’s “This Morning.”
Chen is under U.S. protection in Beijing, Bob Fu, founder of the U.S.-based human rights group ChinaAid, said in an April 27 e-mail. U.S. and Chinese officials are trying to come to an agreement on Chen’s situation before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner arrive for talks in Beijing May 3-4.
At a White House press conference yesterday with Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda, Obama declined to comment on Chen.
In the CBS interview, Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, also said an advertisement by Obama’s re-election campaign that suggests he wouldn’t have ordered the raid on al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan was “the wrong course.”
“It was very disappointing for the president to make this a political item,” he said. “Of course I would have taken out Osama bin Laden.”