China Dissident Says He’s Considering Many Options for After NYU

Blind Chinese legal activist Chen Guangcheng, who escaped from house arrest last year and went to the U.S., said he expects to have many options after the end of his fellowship at New York University.

Chen declined to discuss a statement he issued June 17 saying that China’s Communist Party pressured the school for him to leave, in a threat to academic independence. Speaking at a Taipei briefing, he also declined to say where he’ll go next.

Chen, whose activism includes a class-action lawsuit against forced abortions and sterilizations of village women in China, is visiting Taiwan until July 11 at the invitation of human rights groups on the island. The dissident was given shelter at the American embassy in Beijing on April 26, 2012 after he fled house arrest in his native Shandong province.

He arrived in the U.S. in May last year to begin a yearlong fellowship at NYU after the U.S. State Department reached a resolution with Chinese officials, who issued Chen a passport.

Taiwan’s President Ma Ying-jeou said in a June 23 statement that he has no plans to meet with Chen.

Chen said such meetings aren’t critical for advancing his cause, and he appreciates there are reasons for the Taiwan president’s position. “Those reasons represent the threat posed by China’s authoritarian regime,” Chen said.

In the June 17 statement, Chen said “the Chinese Communists had already begun to apply great, unrelenting pressure on New York University” for him to leave. NYU received permission from the Chinese government to open a campus in Shanghai, and its first class begins in September.

Chen has an offer from the Princeton, New Jersey-based Witherspoon Institute and is in negotiations with Fordham University, Bob Fu, the president of the Midland, Texas-based Christian aid group China Aid, who has worked with Chen, said in an email June 18.

The Witherspoon Institute has published articles on its website saying that same-sex marriage is harmful to children and the institution of marriage itself.

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