By Peter J. Smith

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 25, 2006 ( – The United States has condemned China for imprisoning a blind Chinese activist who exposed the forcing of sterilizations and abortions on villagers in accord with the Communist government’s one-child policy.

According to AFP, the US State Department described the recent conviction of Chen Guangcheng, 34, as part of a larger attempt to curtail individual rights. Chen faces four years and three months in prison for “willfully damaging property and organizing a mob to disturb traffic”; charges which the State Department called “highly questionable”.

Many believe yesterday’s conviction of Chen was a result of his exposé of government officials who brutally imposed sterilizations and forced abortions in China’s eastern Shandong province.

The State Department said it was “disturbed” by the conviction of Chen, who was denied fair representation. A court in Shandong convicted Chen without objection from court-appointed attorneys. Chen’s own lawyer was released shortly after the trial concluded, apparently just cleared of the charge of “stealing a wallet.” (See LifeSite’s story from yesterday:

“We’re concerned that Chen’s arrest, the detention of his lawyers and the reported detention of another activist, Gao Zhisheng, appear part of a larger pattern of official harassment of individuals who work to advocate for the legal rights of their fellow citizens,” department spokesman Gonzo Gallegos told reporters.

Before the trial, the State Department had repeatedly called upon China to release Chen. Now, Gallegos said the United States calls for his release and for the harassment of Chen’s family to cease.

See LifeSite Coverage:

Blind Chinese Anti-Forced Abortion Activist Sentenced to Over Four Years in Prison

Beijing Jails Lawyers of Blind Activist Who Exposed Forced Abortions

US Urges China to Release Blind Anti-Forced-Abortion Activist Chen Guangcheng