Exclusive: Activist Chen Guangcheng Says His Return to China Is Inevitable

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Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng , a human rights champion who spent much of his career clashing with the government in his native county, told WNYC that his return to China is “inevitable.”

In his first national broadcast interview since arriving in the U.S. in May, the blind activist who challenged the Chinese government’s stance on disability rights told WNYC’s The Takeaway that raising these issues has made the government “very uncomfortable” and “very angry.” Still, he hopes he can return.

“I think going back to China is inevitable,” Guangcheng said in an interview that aired Tuesday. “It’s just a question of when, and I can’t say exactly what time it will be. … I think what’s most important, is to make the authorities, to make the Chinese Government aware that there are problems.”

Guangcheng described the disabled as a “mirror to society.”

“And if we hold up the mirror of disability to society, we can see whether the society itself is disabled or not,” he said.

He said there were “many problems” in New York when it came to accessibility for the disabled, noting that getting around via wheelchair is very difficult in the city because of raised pavements or imperfect slopes.

“There are still obstacles, so I think much more can be done to improve it,” he said.

Guangcheng escaped home arrest from his village in rural Shandong province and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. After weeks of diplomatic wrangling, he left for the U.S. where he became a visiting scholar at New York University.

Chen is a self-taught lawyer with no formal law degree and does not speak English.

For a full transcript of the interview, go here.