The case of blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng is set to overshadow a top level meeting between the Obama administration and the Chinese government.
Washington wants to keep its bilateral relations with Beijing on an even track, but a diplomatic storm has been sparked by Chen’s dramatic escape from house arrest.
The human rights activist is believed to be under US protection but President Barack Obama has refused to confirm he is taking refuge in the US embassy in the Chinese capital.
“Obviously, I’m aware of the press reports on the situation in China, but I’m not going to make a statement on the issue,” said President Obama. “What I would like to emphasise is that every time we meet with China, the issue of human rights comes up.”
With US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton due in Beijing for talks on Wednesday,she and her Chinese counterpart were intending to discuss Iran, Syria, North Korea and trade. But as of now, interest is focused on the whereabouts and the fate of Chen Guangcheng.