As the story of blind, activist lawyer Chen Guangcheng’s April 22 escape from confinement and subsequent negotiation with Chinese authorities unfolds, Professor Jerome Cohen has been advising Chen behind the scenes. After taking refuge in the U.S. embassy in Beijing, Chen requested to speak with Cohen, and on the morning of April 30, Cohen found himself on the phone with Ambassador Gary Locke, State Department Legal Advisor Harold Koh, and eventually Chen himself. Cohen has also invited Chen to be a visiting scholar at NYU, either in New York or at one of the university's other global sites.
Cohen, a prominent expert in Chinese law, first met Chen in 2003. He has since advocated for the Chinese lawyer’s release from house arrest and has described Chen as a “potential Gandhi figure for Chinese society.” In recent days, Cohen has spoken extensively to the media on the deal for Chen’s release, the lawyer’s reported desire to leave China, and the implications for U.S.-China relations. In a May 5th op-ed for the Washington Post, Cohen shed light on the turn of events that now makes a departure from China possible for Chen and his family.
Cohen is a co-director of NYU Law’s U.S.-Asia Law Institute, and press accounts that include his comments on the Chen Guangcheng story are available on the institute’s website.