[JURIST] Blind Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] urged the US on Thursday to “try harder” to promote the rule of law in China [transcript]. Speaking at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) [advocacy website], Chen informed the audience that the rule of law in China is still weak and that much has to be done to establish equal rights for everyone. Chen claimed that governmental officials are corrupt and engage in illegal activities that ignores citizens’ basic human rights. He noted that international law is one of the tools to bring the state of law in China to a level that respects the “basic” human rights of its citizens:
I know that it’s a very complicated thing, this diplomacy between big countries. But no matter how you put it, human rights is a very basic human value. If this very—if you can’t even care about these such fundamental human values, the other interests are very superficial by comparison. We say in China, you don’t want to care only about the branches and forget about the core. You’re an ordinary Chinese citizen, but you wouldn’t understand the situation in rural villages. What—you know the attitude of the ordinary—so from the viewpoint of the ordinary Chinese, would you—what would they like to see the American government to do? If you can’t talk about it now, maybe in a year’s time.
Chen will soon start his fellowship to study law at New York University [advocacy website].
Chen arrived in New York last week after he left the US embassy [JURIST reports] earlier this month. His arrival resolved a US-China struggle that began when he escaped [JURIST report] from his house arrest and sought refuge in US embassy in Beijing in April. He was placed under house arrest after he served four years in prison to which he was sentenced [JURIST reports] for damaging property and “organizing a mob to disturb traffic.”