If everything goes as planned, one lucky U.S. university will be home to blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng. On Friday, China's Foreign Ministry said Chen can apply to study abroad in the same way more than 300,000 Chinese students have done for years. "[He] can apply through normal channels to the relevant departments in accordance with the law, just like any other Chinese citizen,” read a statement on the ministry's website this morning. According to The New York Times' Michael Wines, it's a major diplomatic breakthrough that will help both China and the U.S. save face.
For China's part, the deal allows it to quietly whisk Chen out of the country in a manner that doesn't upset human rights activists. The U.S. would be able to resolve an issue that senior American officials "have privately acknowledged missteps," reports Wines, in not guaranteeing U.S. access to Chen in the hospital or getting assurances from the Chinese that he or his family wouldn't be injured. (Republicans quickly seized on the issue in Congress and on the campaign trail yesterday).
It's still too soon to say if the deal will go through but, if it does, it's hard to imagine sharing a dorm room with a cooler foreign exchange student. Who are you? Oh, I'm the blind Chinese dissident who risked his life escaping house arrest after protesting China's one-child policy, which caused an international incident. Oh, Which bed do you want?
Update: According to reports, it appears that New York University will most likely be that lucky university. According to activist Guo Yushan, who helped Chen escape from house arrest, Chen "wants to rest for several months in the US, and he has the invitation letter of New York University. Since he is a free man, now he wants to tour for sometime in the US and then come back."