Chen Guangcheng, the blind dissident who made a miraculous escape from house arrest in Linyi late April before making his way to Beijing to hide out at the US Embassy, has told Verna Yu of the South China Morning Post, that he believed God was the one that made his escape possible.
“I believe God was helping me,” he told the South China Morning Post by phone.
“It was nerve-racking … I am not affiliated with any religion, but I believe divine power exists.”
“I spent a long time preparing, and once there was an opportunity, I leaped over a wall,” Chen said, noting his chance came when a guard went to get water. He declined to elaborate further, citing worries about officials retaliating against his relatives who remain in Shandong .
“It was rather dangerous. There were guard posts around each wall,” he said. “I could only crouch and wait for an opportunity. When I felt they weren’t looking, I quickly climbed over.”
When he scaled a fifth wall, he fell to the ground. His foot was injured so badly he couldn’t walk.
“I thought: ‘Why? Why did God help me get through all those hurdles, and now he gives me this?’
“But there was nothing else I could do, so I carried on … it’s an experience I can hardly bear to look back on.”
“I think every one of us should just do our best to make this society a better, fairer and more civilised place,” Chen said. “God helps those who help themselves.”
An article by Brian Spegele of the Wall Street Journal highlights the concern in some quarters that Chen Guangcheng’s cause was being hijacked by Christian activists in China and the United States, including Bob Fu, founder of the US-based ChinaAid organisation:
[…] the role of Christian activist Bob Fu in the battle over Mr. Chen’s fate was thrown into the global spotlight when he reached Mr. Chen by cellphone while at a Capitol Hill hearing and let Mr. Chen make his appeal for passage to the U.S. directly to lawmakers.
There is concern in some camps that after Mr. Chen took his case internationally, activists who have used ties with international groups to challenge the Chinese government to uphold the laws on its books, which includes both legal activists and activist with Christian ties—will come under increasing pressure.
Mr. Chen’s plight has resonance among U.S. Christians, in part because of his challenge to forced abortions under China’s one-child policy, though any ideological overlap on other issues is unclear.
Leaders of underground churches say they are closely watching how Beijing handles Mr. Chen’s case as a possible gauge of how far the government is willing to go to punish those it views as a threat to the Communist Party’s grip on power.
The Chen case “has been a blow for China’s legal and government officials,” said Zhang Mingxuan, one of China’s better-known so-called house-church pastors, in an interview. “Chen Guangcheng isn’t a Christian, but we Chinese Christians pray for all those in pursuit of the truth.”