If China allows activist Chen Guangcheng to leave with his family, it will be an individual victory unlikely to usher in better treatment for other dissidents.
Even if China makes a rare concession and allows legal activist Chen Guangcheng to leave the country with his family, other dissidents say they don't expect a broader easing of controls. Authorities might even tighten the screws on prominent critics to prevent them from taking encouragement from Chen's case to challenge the leadership.
The blind activist's escape from house arrest and flight to safety in the US Embassy has provided a much-needed morale boost for a dissident community that over the last year has been debilitated by a massive government security crackdown aimed at preventing an Arab-style democratic uprising. Dozens of activists, rights lawyers, intellectuals, and others have been detained, questioned, and in some cases, even tortured.
Chen, a symbol in China's civil rights movement, may be able to leave to study in the United States under still-evolving arrangements announced Friday by Washington and Beijing to end a weeklong diplomatic standoff over his case.
On Saturday, Chen was still in a hospital where he was taken to receive medical care, joined by his wife and two children. US Embassy officials met with his wife, although Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in Beijing this past week for annual talks, left Beijing without visiting him.
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