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Can China, US strike a new deal on blind dissident? (+video)

Chen Guangcheng, a blind Chinese activist, has upended an earlier agreement between China and the US, disrupting a visit to Beijing by Hillary Clinton.

US Ambassador Gary Locke answers questions about why US released Chen Guangcheng to Chinese custody.
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As blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng spent a second day in the hospital here Thursday pondering his future, doubts arose whether he would be able to back out of a deal that he and US diplomats struck with the Chinese government for him to stay in China.

Mr. Chen continued to tell foreign reporters that he had changed his mind about the agreement, fearing for his safety, and that he now wants to go to the United States with his wife and children.

A US official was quoted as saying that Washington stood ready to help Chen whatever he decided to do, but stopped short of pledging an offer of political asylum for the human rights advocate and his family.

A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman refused to say how Beijing would respond to any US overture to renegotiate the deal, reached after several days of intense talks, allowing Chen to live peacefully and study in China, as he had originally said he wanted to do.

But Chinese experts were dubious; “I can’t say that it is totally impossible” that the Chinese authorities would allow Chen and his family to leave the country soon, says Shi Yinhong, head of the American Studies Center at Renmin University in Beijing and an occasional adviser to the Chinese government. “But I don’t think it is very likely.”

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