WASHINGTON — The United States will grant Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng a visa as soon as he applies for one, and expects Beijing to stand by its promises, Vice President Joe Biden said Sunday.
Biden told NBC television that Washington wanted to help Chen take up the offer of a fellowship from New York University.
“We’re prepared to give a visa right away. He’s going to be able to take his family. We expect the Chinese to stick to that commitment,” Biden said.
Chen is at the center of a major diplomatic wrangle between China and the United States after he escaped harsh house arrest in the eastern province of Shandong late last month and sought refuge at the US embassy in Beijing.
He has been offered the fellowship but injuries sustained during his flight and official restrictions on access to him have prevented him from completing the necessary formalities to leave.
Chen on Sunday appealed for official help to leave China, saying he was effectively blocked in his hospital bed in Beijing.
“Now I have notified the hospital to invite them (government officials) to help me do the procedures. I really don’t have a way,” he told AFP in a telephone interview.
“It’s even difficult for me to get out of bed and my other friends cannot come, so I have no way. They (US diplomats) have come, but they can’t see me.”
Senator John McCain, who was the Republican 2008 presidential nominee, said there had been “a number of missteps” in the handling of Chen’s case.
But he told ABC television “the key now right now is to get him out of there and to the United States. That’s I think what we all ought to focus on.
“It’s important to recognize that people who helped him are being rounded up and detained. People are being arrested,” McCain added.
“We’ve got to focus a lot of attention on them, as well. But first priority is to get him out of there and to the United States.”