In a visit to Capitol Hill today, human rights activist Chen Guangcheng called for continued attention to human rights abuses in China, including the ones inflicted on his family by the Chinese government.
"If a case as high profile as mine cannot be handled properly in accordance with Chinese law and international legal norms, how are we able to believe that China will respect human rights and the rule of law," Chen said through an interpreter.
Republican House Speaker John Boehner and House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi attended the press conference. And despite the light-hearted nature of Pelosi's quip to Boehner -- "I don't often say this, but I do wish to associate myself with your remarks today" -- the tone was serious as the top House party leaders praised Chen for his work.
Chen, who is blind, is a self-taught lawyer who spent his life speaking out against human rights violations in China, including forced abortions resulting from the government's one-child policy. A well-known Chinese dissident, Chen feared for his safety, and came to the U.S. on May 19 after diplomatic talks between the two countries.
"I think their example humbles us and reminds us why we cherish life and freedom so much and why we work so hard to preserve and protect our fundamental values," Boehner said. "Let me personally thank Mr. Chen and his family for the sacrifices they've made to fight for human rights, religious freedom and the rights of the unborn."