By John Jalsevac

Chen GuangchengLINYI, China, August 14, 2006 ( – A high ranking US official has joined in the efforts of the Bush Administration to convince China to release blind anti-forced-abortion, anti-one-child-policyÂactivist Chen Guangcheng.

Chen was formally arrested earlier this year for his public advocacy for local victims of the forced-abortion, one-child policy in the eastern China city of Linyi, although he had already been under house arrest since August 2005.

“We believe that there has been a certain violation of normal standards and are urging China to release him from imprisonment,” said USÂAssistant Secretary of State Ellen Sauerbrey, who heads the State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration.

She says she brought the issue of Chen Guangcheng up during a meeting of the China-U.S. Global Issues Forum
“For China’s own reputation,” Sauerbrey said, “our hope is just that if we keep a focus on the issue, that China will recognize that it is in their best interest to release this gentleman from jail.”

According to Chen’s wife, Yuan Weijing, two US diplomats who had attempted to investigate the issue earlier in the year in May were forcibly removed from the village.

“There isn’t much hope,” she has been quoted as saying about Guangcheng’s predicament. Speaking by telephone from the family farmhouse, where she had been detained, Weijing told the Washington Post in July, “Everything that has happened runs counter to [Chinese President] Hu Jintao’s talk of democracy and governing by law. We live in a nation without law, a nation without morality.”

Chen, who is blind and who taught himself law in order to defend the rights of local people, disappeared on March 11 of this year after protesting the police beating of his brother Chen Guangyu, according to his wife. Some time after that the government admitted to arresting Chen, and shortly thereafter pressed formal charges.
The efforts of Chen and the illegal activities of the local family planning officials are getting national attention in China as well as outside the country.Â
Political pressure, however, is keeping anyone in the Chinese government from aiding Chen, even though he was fighting within the law. One legal expert spoke to the Washington Post on condition of anonymity, “In the current political environment, in this political system, no official has any incentive to help him.”

See related coverage:

Blind Chinese Activist to be Prosecuted for Opposition to Forced Abortion

Chinese Police Admit to Arrest of Missing One-Child/Forced Abortion Policy Protester

Chinese One-Child Policy Protester Missing Since Arrest Last Month