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Chinese dissident reaches New York, thanks US, China govts

May 20, 2012 17:33 IST

Blind Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng, who was at the centre of a recent Sino-United States diplomatic row, said he was thankful that Beijing had dealt with the situation with "restraint and calm" as he arrived in the US with his family.

Chen landed in New Jersey's Newark Liberty International airport near here late yesterday evening and was taken to New York University where he will study law.

Addressing reporters near his NYU apartment, Chen communicated his feelings through a translator, "For the past seven years, I have never had a day's rest. So I have come here for a bit of recuperation for body and in spirit".

Standing on crutches, Chen thanked American and Chinese officials for the way they handled his situation, right from the time he escaped house arrest to seek refuge in the US embassy in Beijing last month, events which had virtually led to a diplomatic crisis between the two nations.

"I feel like everybody is very passionate," Chen said through his translator.

"I will say a few simple words to everyone here. After much turbulance. I have come out... thanks to the assistance of many friends.

"The embassy has given me partial citizenship here. I'm very grateful to the US and to the Chinese government for my protection over the long term.

"Very grateful to other friends like France, who have called in their support. I am gratified the Chinese government dealt with situation with restraint and calm".

"I hope to see that they continue to open discourse and earn the respect and trust of the people," said Chen.

At NYU, Chen, a self-taught lawyer, will also work with professors in the law school, NYU spokesman John Beckman said.

Chen and his family were accompanied on the flight by two hinese-speaking officers from the US Embassy in Beijing, and they were met at Newark airport by State Department personnel and NYU Law School Professor Jerome Cohen.

"He has worked with Cohen in the past and had a standing invitation to come here," Beckman said.

Chen left Beijing on Saturday with his wife and two children.

According to the New York Times, Chen and his family said they did not know they were leaving the country until several hours before the flight.

It was only on their way to the airport that they learned where they were heading.

Their passports were delivered by Chinese officials shortly before the family got on the United Airlines plane.

Yoshita Singh in New York
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