by Staff Writers
Beijing (AFP) May 9, 2012
A Chinese state newspaper on Wednesday accused "overseas forces" of using blind lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who fled house arrest to seek safety at the US embassy, as a political tool to demonise China.
"External forces would like to use this to politicise and universalise some of China's social conflicts," Liu Yang said in the commentary, published by the English edition of the Global Times, which is known for its nationalist stance.
"They want Chen's case to become deadlocked, drawing in international attention, and becoming an issue as big as what has happened in Libya and Syria, so that they can capitalise on this opportunity to demonise China as a whole."
China's state media has carried little coverage of Chen's dramatic escape from house arrest to the US mission, which sparked a diplomatic crisis between Washington and Beijing and made headlines around the world.
Wednesday's commentary did not appear in the Chinese-language edition of the newspaper, suggesting it was aimed at a foreign readership.
Liu said the self-taught lawyer was unaware he was being "used" as a political tool.
"Chen didn't realise he was being used and his case being hyped into a national political issue," wrote Liu. "How can they be so cruel as to use a disabled person in their political games?"
Chen was jailed for four years after exposing forced sterilisations and abortions in China's "one child" population control policy, and was released in 2010 but then held under house arrest.
The 40-year-old campaigner has been a symbol of China's dismal human rights record since his 2006 conviction, with the United States and the European Union loudly condemning his treatment.
Supporters and journalists who travelled to Chen's Shandong home were routinely beaten by security guards.
Chen left the US embassy and was taken to a Beijing hospital last week after China agreed to guarantee his safety and allow him to apply to study in the United States, where he has been offered a law fellowship.
The Global Times said the legal methods used by Chen to seek redress for rights violations were "inappropriate" in China.
By staying in China, Chen "could have truly benefited China," but if he goes to the United States he will only end up spending American taxpayers money, the paper said.
China News from SinoDaily.com
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