NEW YORK: Men’s magazine GQ has named blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng its rebel of the year, seven months after his escape from house arrest and flight to the US embassy sparked a diplomatic row.
Chen, who left China for the United States after fleeing his home in eastern Shandong province, was named alongside figures including sprinter Usain Bolt and actor Philip Seymour Hoffman as the magazine’s men of the year.
In an article accompanying his profile in the publication, Chen wrote of the challenge of adapting to life in New York, where he moved with his family after being invited to study at a university.
“My children were really excited to come to New York, but my wife and I knew there would be a lot to study and learn, and there was a lot to consider,”he said.
“Do I have any regrets? No. What is there to regret?… I don’t while away my time with regrets, just like I didn’t worry about danger in China.”One of China’s best-known activists, Chen won plaudits for investigating rights abuses including forced sterilisations and late-term abortions under China’s “one-child” family planning policy, but was also imprisoned.
After being released from a four-year jail term in September 2010, Chen was placed under house arrest in Shandong but fled from under the noses of plain-clothes police on April 22.
He took refuge at the US embassy in Beijing less than a week before US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was due to visit China for high-level talks.
Chinese and American diplomats scrambled to find a solution and defuse the row. After initially agreeing to stay in China, Chen decided he wanted to leave for the US and Beijing eventually agreed to allow him to apply to study abroad.