Chen Did What? By Richard Lee

chen guangcheng chinese dissident

First a full disclosure up front, borrowing stylistic cues from my fellow blog contributor and executive editor of SMBmatters Paul’s words, Richard Lee has been proudly Asian since 1969 – in case you are inclined to call me a racist…

Now that’s out of the way – what is up with the blind Chinese dissident and the US media?  Please understand that my rhetorical question is not meant to trivialize: the alleged beating and all the suffering he had to endure during his confinement; causes that he is championing or protesting against; nor the less than perfect Chinese human rights records…  Rather, I take an issue with the timing of the whole fiasco (potentially jeopardizing already fragile relationship midst high-level talks between US and Chinese officials) and the overall dramatization of the ordeal – calling into Capitol Hill hearing via cell phone from his Beijing hospital room to discuss the crisis through a translator.  He did what?

This is just days after a picture of grinning Chen Guangcheng with Gary Locke (US Ambassador) and Kurt Campbell (US Diplomat) graced the front page of WSJ.  To my surprise, the Chinese government is taking the political high-road by allowing Chen to apply to study abroad, and US stated that it will expedite the paperwork.  In his words “I want to come to the US to rest.  I have not had a rest in 10 years.”  A few truly random thoughts come to mind…

  • Quote from Spock when he was getting fried in a nuclear reactor to save the ship and the crew in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Kahn – “logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the one.”  I think Chen should watch this movie when he’s resting comfortably here in the US, sipping his Mai Tai.
  • David Robinson’s rebuttal to Steve Nash when the latter became outspoken against the US policy in the Middle East in the early 90’s – in so many words, “if you don’t like this country, go play somewhere else.  You should tone down your criticism towards a country from which you are reaping your American dream.”  Many will recall that Nash is Canadian and Robinson is an Annapolis grad.
  • Why did the US decide to help Chen while dissing the police chief from Chongquing province who also tried to claim political asylum at the embassy?  Is it truly as random as rescuing Merrill while allowing Bear Sterns to fail? By the way, that was another rhetorical question.

I applaud Chen and his advisors’ political savvy.  At the end, he got what he wanted, and the US media (can I include Rep Smith from NJ in the mix since he seems to have much free time on his hands?) just ate it up.  Come to think of it, I have not had a good rest in 10 years also – perhaps I should give Capitol Hill a buzz…

Editor’s Note: An ex-US Army combat arms officer, Richard’s views can get edgy and jingoistic, especially when he’s not writing about wine, scotch or coffee.  As always, posts here at SMBmatters reflect the views of the author and the author only, and we welcome readers’ feedback, whether good, bad, or  indifferent.

Latest News update via Reuters:

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About Richard Lee
Experienced finance and operations professional. Currently partner in five companies, adjunct professor of economics at Columbia College and executive contributor to a small business blog (; following corporate finance, M&A and management consulting tenures with Orbitz and Diamond Technology Partners; and six years of service with the United States Army.

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