- By Isaac Stone FishIsaac Stone Fish is Asia Editor. A Mandarin speaker, he lived in China for seven years before moving to Washington DC. His articles have also appeared in the New York Times, the Economist, the Washington Post, and the Los Angeles Times, and he has appeared as a commentator on MSNBC, BBC, NPR, Al-Jazeera, and PRI, among others.
The blind, self-taught legal activist Chen Guangcheng has escaped from his village in Shandong province where he was kept a prisoner in his own home and fled to Beijing. The New York Times quoted an official at the Chinese Ministry of State Security as saying Chen had made it to the U.S. embassy, though the State Department hasn’t confirmed or denied if Chen is inside.
Chen become famous for filing a class action lawsuit in 2005 on behalf of woman who underwent forced sterilizations; he was later imprisoned for three years for "damaging property and organising a mob to disturb traffic" and then kept under de facto house arrest. Chen’s house became a spot of pilgrimage for human rights activists, a sort of adventure tourism for Chinese who wanted to experience for themselves the thuggishness their country has to offer. Batman actor Christian Bale tried to visit as well but was forcibly turned away; "What I really wanted to do was to meet the man, shake his hand and say what an inspiration he is" Bale said at the time.
It’s a sensitive time for the United States to consider offering Chen asylum, as China is still reeling from the downfall of high ranking leader Bo Xilai, a scandal precipitated by an associate of his seeking refuge in the U.S. Consulate in Chengdu.
This is at least the second time that Chen has escaped from house arrest. "The night gives me an advantage," he told Time Magazine, after fleeing from an early house arrest in August 2005 to Beijing. "I can navigate better than people with sight can."
Josh Rogin covers national security and foreign policy and writes the daily Web column The Cable. His column appears bi-weekly in the print edition of The Washington Post. He can be reached for comments or tips at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Previously, Josh covered defense and foreign policy as a staff writer for Congressional Quarterly, writing extensively on Iraq, Afghanistan, Guantánamo Bay, U.S.-Asia relations, defense budgeting and appropriations, and the defense lobbying and contracting industries. Prior to that, he covered military modernization, cyber warfare, space, and missile defense for Federal Computer Week Magazine. He has also served as Pentagon Staff Reporter for the Asahi Shimbun, Japan's leading daily newspaper, in its Washington, D.C., bureau, where he reported on U.S.-Japan relations, Chinese military modernization, the North Korean nuclear crisis, and more.
A graduate of George Washington University's Elliott School of International Affairs, Josh lived in Yokohama, Japan, and studied at Tokyo's Sophia University. He speaks conversational Japanese and has reported from the region. He has also worked at the House International Relations Committee, the Embassy of Japan, and the Brookings Institution.
Josh's reporting has been featured on CNN, MSNBC, C-Span, CBS, ABC, NPR, WTOP, and several other outlets. He was a 2008-2009 National Press Foundation's Paul Miller Washington Reporting Fellow, 2009 military reporting fellow with the Knight Center for Specialized Journalism and the 2011 recipient of the InterAction Award for Excellence in International Reporting. He hails from Philadelphia and lives in Washington, D.C.| The Cable |