Translation of phone calls between human rights lawyer Teng Biao (滕彪) and Chen Guangcheng made yesterday evening while Chen was being held at Chaoyang Hospital. In this exchange, Teng convinces Chen to change his mind about staying on in China and to let the US embassy know he now wants asylum for the entire family.
[May 2, 7.55pm]
Chen Guangcheng: Hi, can you guess who I am?
Teng Biao: Oh, it’s Guangcheng! How are you? I haven’t seen you in a few years now! I can’t believe it’s your voice I’m listening to again! It’s so great to know that you’re free again. Everyone’s been very concerned about you, and very worried. You’re at the hospital now?
CGC: Yes, I’m at the hospital.
TB: Right now, everybody is just concerned about your next steps. What do you plan to do next? As your friend, I hope that you can consider this decision carefully. Most of the people that care about you hope for your sake that you can leave China with your family to go live in the United States.
TB: I want to send you everyone’s well wishes. We’ve all been really worried about you, including (NYU Law) Professor Jerome Cohen and (CUHK Law) Professor Eva Pils, and many other people on the internet. Over the years, they have all done a lot for you.
CGC: Thank you all for your concern. I know about professors Cohen and Pils.
TB: How is your health? Apart from your leg injury, are you hurt elsewhere?
CGC: Thank you all. It’s mostly skin injury, but my leg was fractured and now I’m in a cast.
TB: You’ve been having problems with your health for a while, and you had that diarrhoea problem. Did you have a full health check?
CGC: I’m going for the check tomorrow.
TB: I heard that Weijing has been accompanied by Shandong officials to Beijing, is that right? What about your mom? Is she still under surveillance?
CGC: Yes that’s right. I believe Shandong is acting under the orders of Beijing, and that’s why they’ve escorted here here. Mom’s still back home and I can’t reach her on the phone. They’ve installed new security cameras and erected new barriers.
TB: Have you heard what’s happened to Chen Kegui and your elder brother Chen Guangfu? Chen Kegui’s situation is precarious. Chen Hua and his dad have both been arrested.
CGC: Yes I heard.
TB: His situation is highly precarious. I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like for him once he’s caught.
TB: You really need to talk to the US embassy about Chen Kegui, Chen Hua, and the rest of your family. As a lawyer, I understand the Kegui was just defending himself. But if you don’t bring this up for discussion, it’s going to be terrible once they get him.
CGC: Yes, I discussed that with them.
TB: One more thing, you know what the Foreign Ministry spokesperson said about your case?
CGC: I don’t know.
TB: Very harsh words, not an ounce of friendliness to be found in there. Foreign Ministry spokesperson Liu Weimin said, “It should be pointed out that Chen Guangcheng, a Chinese citizen, was taken by the U.S. side to the U.S. Embassy in Beijing via abnormal means, and the Chinese side is strongly dissatisfied with the move. What the U.S. side has done has interfered in the domestic affairs of China, and the Chinese side will never
accept it. China demands that the United States thoroughly investigate the event, hold relevant people accountable and ensure that such an event does not happen again.” Very tough words. It is absolutely unbelievable that they will stick to their promise and not punish anyone afterwards. This promise will last at the most one to two weeks. If you stay on in China, it’s oging to be very dangerous for you.
TB: Have you met anyone else?
CGC: No, I haven’t met anyone else this afternoon. I guess they’ve all been blocked from coming to see me.
TB: Many netizens are out there at the hospital to meet you, but they must all have been blocked. If I were in Beijing, I’d probably be blocked from visiting you to. I’ll try to find some way of meeting you. I heard you’re going back to school to study, where will that be?
CGC: Yes, but I haven’t decided where.
TB: Guangcheng, you absolutely must not do this. It’s going to be very dangerous for you to stay on in China. Seriously.
TB: I heard one of the guards watching over you was detained, the one that helped you escape. Is this true?
CGC: Nobody helped me escape. I escaped by myself.
TB: Have you heard about Pearl [Nanjing activist who helped Chen escape]?
CGC: No, but I heard she has disappeared.
TB: Yes, she has disappeared. Guo Yushan has also been released but he’s also in danger. Without a doubt, they are going to sort all you guys out later. They also promised in  they would not punish anyone, but look what happened next — how many people did they shoot? You should know yourself — Jiang Tianyong, Fan Yafeng, Tang Jitian, Yu Jie, Li Fangping and myself, just about everyone who has a bit of influence internationally, we’ve all been targeted for some very cruel actions. It’s not as simple as being locked up for four years and being put under surveillance for another two. Their methods are very cruel, very unbearable. It’s been so many years — the people that have been trying to bring you down are not just from Shandong. You’ve been kidnapped a few times in Beijing. Once your mom and Kerui were at the ground floor of my apartment, and the Beijing police pulled me away and tackled me to the ground before forcibly taking them away. Another time you were kidnapped just below Jiang Tianyong’s apartment. Beijing has been cooperating all this while. The government hates you. The demands you made to Wen Jiabao in that video are all very good. Wen Jiabao may be a nice man but even if he’s trying to help you, unfortunately that won’t be enough.
CGC: Yes, I know.
TB: Is anyone from the embassy with you now?
CGC: No, they’ve all gone. They said they would accompany me all the way, but now they’ve all gone. It’s just me at the hospital now.
TB: Then you’re really in a dangerous situation! Did you get to meet Hillary Clinton this afternoon?
CGC: I spoke to her over the phone but didn’t get to meet her.
TB: Did Gary Locke take you to the hospital.
CGC: Yes, he and his staff took me here.
TB: I suggest you get back to the embassy ASAP.
CGC: That’s not possible now.
TB: Is the embassy not allowing you back? Or is the Chinese government not allowing you back?
TB: Guangcheng, even if you told the embassy you won’t ever go back, there’s still time for you to change your mind, and it would be totally understandable. Please reconsider this whole thing. You know — Kegui, Chen Hua and everyone at home is in a very dangerous situation. Pearl’s been taken away. Even if you’re not considering this for yourself, then at least for your family and for those that tried to help you, you should try to get back to the embassy and make your way to the US. If this thing hangs in the balance, it’s going to be very dangerous for everyone. We understand that you don’t want to leave that you want to stay behind and try to do something. But you need to understand that if you stay behind, there’ll be nothing you can do. Even if you don’t work on any sensitive case, life will be bad enough if you’re trying to do your own thing, you’ll meet obstacles everywhere. Some of our friends have faced harrassment even trying to run their own little business. You’ve done way too much for human rights in CHina, you’ve made too many sacrifices. We don’t want you to sacrifice or give more of yourself. Please reconsider.
CGC: I understand.
TB: You take care. Call me if there’s any problem.
[May 2, 8:45pm]
CGC: I have something to tell you. I think they’ve already begun taking action on me. They’re refusing to give us dinner. The child is crying from hunger.
TB: Have you given the embassy a call. You talk to them. What did the nurse say?
CGC: The nurse said to talk to the director.
TB: It’s almost 9. Why are they not giving you dinner? Go give XXX a call.
CGC: Help me call her.
TB: Ok, I’ll call her now.
[May 2, 8:47pm]
Yuan Weijing: The dinner came.
TB: Did you hear what I said to Guangcheng earlier? The food is there? Did the embassy people say they were coming?
CGC: The embassy guys spoke to the hospital.
TB:You eat first, please. Let me talk to Weijing.
[To Weijing] What I was trying to convince Guangcheng earlier is to change his mind and get him to leave China. It’s too dangerous for him to stay on. While the China-US discussions are going on, they may guarantee your safety but as soon as the Americans are gone, you’re going to be in danger. It’s going to be terrifying what they’ll do to you. All the tactics that they’ve used against you, we’re all very clear. This is not just the single actions of Linyi or Shandong. We can all understand your willingness to stay behind to do something, but objectively speaking that just can’t happen. Way too many people have had this experience. They can’t do rights work anymore, can’t participate in NGO’s, can’t even run their own business. Also: Pearl and Kegui are all in danger. All our friends are now hoping you can safely go to the US and start living a normal life. Please consider my suggestion. No matter what Guangcheng said earlier, there is still time to change his mind. The US embassy will not turn him away.
Yuan Weijing: I understand now. Do you still want to talk to Guangcheng?
TB: No, let him eat. How is his mom?
YWJ: Not very good. So many things have happened at home and she’s worried.
TB: Are there lots of security guys at home?
YWJ: Now it’s not the mafia. It’s the uniformed police keeping watch on us.
TB: What about Chen Guangfu? Is he at home or has he been taken away?
YWJ: I don’t know. We haven’t been able to reach him.
TB: Ok, you go have your dinner. Let’s stay in touch.
[May 2, 10:05pm]
TB: Are you now under threat?
CGC: Yes, absolutely right. This afternoon, people from the Foreign Ministry told me that if I don’t come out, Weijing and my children are going to have to be sent back. The people who’ve escorted her here are around.
TB: You don’t have many choices left now. You need to give the embassy a call and make it clear that you want to go back there. Otherwise, there is no way to ensure your safety.
TB: Jinyan went online with your story. Now she’s being watched too and there’s no way to reach her. While Hillary Clinton is still in Beijing and while the world’s still watching, there’s still time for you to make amends. Any later and it will be all too late. Today I saw on the internet that Clinton was saying that everything was being done according to your wishes and US values. Your wish is top priority. Can you please give them a call? Will you?
CGC: I understand.
[May 2, 10.12pm]
CGC: I tried calling the embassy, nobody picked up.
TB: Try again.
[May 2, 11pm]
All further calls by Teng Biao to reach Chen Guangcheng failed.