April 28 - China's vice foreign minister declines to comment on reports that blind activist Chen Guangcheng has fled into the U.S. embassy in Beijing. Paul Chapman reports.
Unconfirmed reports suggest prominent Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is holed up at the U.S. embassy in Beijing. There was an obvious police presence outside the embassy on Saturday. Neither the U.S. nor China's vice foreign minister had anything to say on the subject on Saturday. SOUNDBITE: VICE CHINESE FOREIGN MINISTER CUI TIANKAI SAYING (Mandarin): "Your question did not come within the scope of the news briefing (HE SAYS) so I have no information to offer you." Chen, seen here in video whose date and authenticity can't be verified by Reuters, had been confined to his home in Linyi village since September 2010. The self-schooled, blind, legal activist's confinement with his family unleashed an outcry from sympathisers within China and from foreign governments and activists. The leader of ChinaAid, a Texas-based religious and political rights advocacy group, says he's safe but refusing to leave the country. SOUNDBITE: BOB FU, CHINAAID FOUNDER, SAYING (English): "He was very reluctant to do so because he wants to - what he says is - to fight to the end for the freedom and basic rights as a Chinese citizen and also for his family." Human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang says Chen has every right to ask the U.S. for help. SOUNDBITE: PU ZHIQIANG, HUMAN RIGHTS LAWYER, SAYING (Mandarin): "He has all the legal rights that a Chinese citizen should have, (HE SAYS. "He has the right to leavy Linyi, come Beijing and ask his friends for help. If he did enter the U.S. embassy, hypothetically that's also right. Another result of this is that it has probably increased the U.S.'s influence." Chen's reported escape and the furore it's unleashed could add to the headache of China's ruling Communist Party. It's very keen to ensure stability and authority ahead of a leadership transition later this year. Paul Chapman, Reuters