Top of the Agenda: Diplomatic Plot Thickens in Chen Affair
Senior U.S. officials acknowledged on Thursday that Chen Guangcheng, the blind Chinese dissident and central actor in an escalating U.S.-China diplomatic crisis (NYT), has changed his mind, and would now like to leave China. Mr. Chen dramatically escaped house arrest in Western China roughly two weeks ago, and sought refuge at the U. S. Embassy in Beijing for six days. He was subsequently released on his own accord to a local hospital for medical treatment. Chen's desire to leave China is a stark reversal from reports that he, who is now wary of his government hosts, had embraced a plan to remain in his native country. The Chen affair comes at an inopportune time for the United States, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner kick off two days of high-level strategic and economic meetings.
In this media conference call, CFR fellow Jerome Cohen, an expert on law and business in China, says that Chen wants to stay in China, but only under certain open conditions, "Here's a man who was willing to sacrifice himself and his relationship with his family for the cause, rule of law in China. He wants to stay in China. The problem is he doesn't want to stay in China under lock and key."
"I've known Chen Guangcheng for more than a decade--he's been through intimidation, beatings, jail, and extralegal house arrest—but through it all I never sensed he was scared. Now he's scared," writes Melinda Liu for the Daily Beast. In an exclusive interview with Chen, Liu quotes him as wanting to leave China as soon as possible, "My fervent hope is that it would be possible for me and my family to leave for the U.S. on Hillary Clinton's plane."
In this interview, CFR's Adam Segal discusses the U.S-China relationship in broader diplomatic terms. "What we can expect is that the relationship is very cyclical--it has its good points and its rough periods, because the two sides are constantly bumping up against each other," he says. "We're entering a more bumpy period. But overall, given the widespread economic interdependence between the two sides and the increasing people-to-people contact, I suspect the damage will not be dramatic to the relationship, but we will continue to bump along."
SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA
Pakistan Aid Imperiled by Bin Laden-Related Case
The case of a Pakistani doctor recruited by the CIA to help capture Osama bin Laden has, one year later, caused upheaval in the country's humanitarian community and led to restrictions affecting millions of dollars in aid operations to poor Pakistanis, reports the New York Times.
EUROZONE: The jobless rate in the seventeen-nation eurozone reached 10.9 percent in March, the highest since the euro was formed in 1999 (BBC). The report comes amid intense new debate in Europe over the impact of austerity measures on economic growth.
SYRIA: In an attempt to quell a protest of about 1,500 students (AP) at Aleppo University, security forces stormed dorms, killing at least four students and wounding several others with tear gas and live ammunition, activists and opposition groups said Thursday.
ISRAEL: The Guardian says an expected call to move elections from August 2013 to this summer would mean an almost certain victory for current Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and strengthen his case for military action against Iran.
West African Leaders to Discuss Mali Instability
West African leaders are set to continue talks over Mali today in a summit in Dakar, Senegal, as a recent coup and attempted counter-coup have threatened Mali's stability (RFI). Earlier this week, clashes in several parts of Bamako left at least twenty-two dead.
NIGERIA: A raid on the Potiskum cattle market in northeastern Nigeria resulted in the deaths of at least thirty-four people (BBC). The attack does not appear to be linked to Boko Haram, the radical Islamist group known for carrying out deadly attacks across the country.
Brazilian Troops to Patrol Vast Areas of the Amazon
MEXICO: A series of gaffes and mishaps (AP) in the opening days of the three-month march to the election has halted the rise in polls for Josefina Vazquez Mota, the country's first female candidate of a major party.
Romney Goes After Business Regulations
The campaign's number one issue--the economy--continues to show signs of perking up, now with U.S. job creation at a four-year high, Gallup says. Based on employees surveyed saying their employers were hiring or letting people go, net new hiring is now at its best level since July 2008 and is near +26--the highest score Gallup has recorded since tracking began in January 2008.
At a campaign stop focused on women-owned small businesses in northern Virginia, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney spoke of lowering taxes and requiring regulators to remove a regulation for every new one added (NationalJournal). Romney said the current administration's policies are hurting small business and, in turn, the overall economy.
Newt Gingrich officially ended his presidential campaign Wednesday (Politico). In his farewell speech, he recapped many of his policy positions, particularly his stance on domestic energy production, and pledged to continue to work on them as a private citizen.
Editor's Note: For more information on the presidential election and foreign policy check out CFR's campaign blog, The Candidates and the World.