Two of the world's superpowers are said to be in talks about the fate of one man. He is a Chinese human rights dissident who had been under house arrest until he escaped.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had little to say about Chinese human rights activist Chen Guangcheng in the hours before her Monday night departure for Beijing.
"I'm not going to address this particular case at this time,” Clinton said.
However she did say that human rights would be discussed alongside other key issues of the U.S./China relationship, including trade and the economy.
"A constructive relationship includes talking very frankly about those areas where we do not agree,” Clinton said.
Chen is believed to be under U.S. protection in Beijing after his daring escape from house arrest last week. The blind lawyer had been detained for years after he exposed forced abortions under China's 'one child' policy. He released a video after his escape asking Beijing not to hurt the family he left behind.
“My wife, mother and children are still in the guards evil hands,” he said.
The Obama administration is being careful not to inflame the issue before diplomatic talks begin on Thursday.
"I'm not going to make a statement on the issue,” President Obama said.
President Obama sidestepped the topic but said the larger issue is one his administration has discussed with China before.
"What I would like to emphasize is that every time we meet with China, the issue of human rights comes up,” President Obama said.
One possible outcome: Chen is granted asylum to live in the United States - something he said he doesn't want to do.
No one has heard from Chen's wife and young daughter since his escape last Sunday.
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