It appears a face-saving solution has been found for the Chen Guangcheng diplomatic standoff. China earlier said the blind activist, currently in a Beijing hospital, is permitted to study abroad, and the US State Department this morning announced that Chen has a fellowship at a US university. "As a Chinese citizen, if he wants to study abroad he can go through the normal channels to the relevant departments and complete the formalities in accordance with the law like other Chinese citizens," China's foreign ministry had said in a statement. Though rights groups expressed worries that authorities could easily hold up paperwork indefinitely to stop Chen from ever leaving the country, the State Department says it expects China to quickly handle the travel procedures for him.
A rep added that the agreement included allowing Chen's wife and two children to also leave so he can accept the fellowship, the AP reports. Before the foreign ministry statement, Chen told Reuters he was concerned for his safety and that of his family. "My situation here is not very good," he said. "I've just found out that when friends have come to visit me, they've been beaten up." One of China's main official newspapers called Chen "a tool and a pawn for American politicians to blacken China," and called US Ambassador Gary Locke a "Starbucks-drinking troublemaker" in an editorial.