After a lot of back-and-forth and confusion, it looks like blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng will be allowed to leave China—if you believe the Chinese government, that is. Earlier today, the State Department said, "The Chinese Government stated today that Mr. Chen Guangcheng has the same right to travel abroad as any other citizen of China. Mr. Chen has been offered a fellowship from an American university, where he can be accompanied by his wife and two children."
State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland also said, "The Chinese Government has indicated that it will accept Mr. Chen's applications for appropriate travel documents. The United States Government expects that the Chinese Government will expeditiously process his applications for these documents and make accommodations for his current medical condition. The United States Government would then give visa requests for him and his immediate family priority attention," finishing with, "This matter has been handled in the spirit of a cooperative U.S.-China partnership."
Chen, a self-taught lawyer who has been outspoken in opposing China's one-child policy, escaped from house arrest a week ago. He had spent days in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, but left to seek medical treatment and claimed he wanted to remain in China. However, then Chen said he wanted to leave, citing concerns for his family's safety.
The Wall Street Journal reports, "Jerome Cohen, an adviser to Mr. Chen and co-director at the U.S.-Asia Law Institute at New York University's Law school, said Mr. Chen has been offered a visiting scholar position at the school. The final details with NYU have not yet been worked out, he said. University spokesman John Beckman said in a statement that Mr. Chen has an invitation to be a visiting scholar at NYU —either in New York or at one of our other global sites."
As for the political fallout of the events, here's what the NY Times says:
The [State Department] statement was the coda to what was, by all appearances, a deftly choreographed series of declarations by Mr. Chen, the Chinese government and American officials that committed all three parties to a mutually agreeable settlement of Mr. Chen’s future.
But it was unlikely to silence a fusillade of accusations that the Obama administration had bungled Mr. Chen’s case by essentially handing him over to Chinese authorities earlier this week without ironclad assurances that he would be safe. And it only underscored the degree to which Chinese violations of human rights have become the lightning rod in the two nations’ ever-more-intertwined relationship, despite Washington’s best efforts to the contrary.
At a Friday meeting with Chinese President Hu Jintao, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said, "The China-U.S. relationship is stronger than it’s ever been."