May 3rd, 2012
02:33 PM ET
6 years ago

Romney questions Obama actions surrounding Chinese activist

(CNN) – Mitt Romney used his harshest words to date to criticize the Obama administration's actions surrounding the situation with Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng.

The presumptive Republican presidential nominee characterized reports over the last day as "troubling developments."

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"If these reports are true this is a dark day for freedom and it is a day of shame for the Obama administration," Romney said at a campaign rally in Portsmouth, Virginia. "We are a place of freedom here and around the world and we should stand up and defend freedom wherever it is under attack."

Chen, a human rights attorney who has been persecuted by Chinese authorities for his work exposing the government's one-child-per-couple policy, among other issues, escaped house arrest and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. After setting of off a behind-the-scenes diplomatic effort intended to prevent the situation from harming the top-level meetings with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner, Chen was released on Wednesday and joined his family at a hospital.

U.S. officials said he never requested asylum and that China gave assurances he and his family would not face further persecution, but after he left the embassy Chen said he wanted U.S. help to flee his native country because he feared for his family's safety.

Romney said he is disappointed in reports that indicate the current administration "probably sped up or may have sped up the process" of his decision to leave the embassy due to impending discussions between China and top U.S. officials, including Clinton and Geithner. He also said the embassy seemingly failed to "put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would assure the safety of Mr. Chen and his family," if the reports are proved accurate.

The former Massachusetts governor expressed concern for the blind dissident after news broke that he fled house arrest in eastern China and was in the Embassy in Beijing.

"My concern at this moment is for the safety of Chen Guangcheng and his family," Romney said in a statement released by his campaign on Sunday. "My hope is that U.S. officials will take every measure to ensure that Chen and his family members are protected from further persecution."

Ben LaBolt, press secretary for President Barack Obama's re-election campaign, said Romney's comments on Thursday "ring hollow."

"He has no coherent foreign policy vision, no concrete plans to enhance our security and strengthen our alliances, and he has taken conflicting positions on every major foreign policy issue facing our nation," LaBolt said in a statement. "Rather than leveling these empty political attacks at the President, Mitt Romney should tell the American people exactly what he would do as Commander-in-Chief."

- CNN's Gabriella Schwarz and the CNN Wire Staff contributed to this report.

Also see:

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Filed under: China • Mitt Romney • President Obama
soundoff (53 Responses)
  1. vic , nashville ,tn

    Romney made another mistake , If he wants to win the election he has to stop talking foreign policy

    May 3, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  2. Toni

    Oh Yea I would wont this guy as Commander & Chief, Hes to scarred to even hold a Press Confrence with questions from Journalist!! You are a gutless Man!!!

    May 3, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  3. holdem

    I wonder if Romney's butt ever gets jealous of all the crap that comes out of his mouth.

    May 3, 2012 03:15 pm at 3:15 pm |
  4. once upon a horse

    don't we have enough issues in our OWN country right now than to have to deal with this? Come on Mitt..ANYTHING to try to go after Obama on when half of your supporters don't even know WHO this guy is or CARE about him at all.

    May 3, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  5. Mario

    This guy is a FLIP FLOPER like Romney. I want to stay in China. Oh no I want to go the United State. But like the Coward Romney is he blames Obama

    May 3, 2012 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  6. Wirad.e Palladin, S. F.

    Ruour hepert Murdoch of Fox foreign owned media has always been supportive of China's human rights violations. Be very careful Mittens, you are in over y

    May 3, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  7. Wirad.e Palladin, S. F.

    What happend to " in over your head?"

    May 3, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  8. ray

    this man will say anything adn lie at all cost which he does everyday just to get elected which of course he wont. why does this moron romney gets away with lying ? i thought americans were educated by i guess i was wrong. who are these people that supports this moron and other like him ?

    May 3, 2012 03:18 pm at 3:18 pm |
  9. ray

    this liar, that is what he is. this liar do not want hard working illegal immigrants here but now wants to bring another to america

    May 3, 2012 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  10. Toni

    Willard, LOSE THE SKIRT hold a press confrence & talk about specifis, yea & take questions from actual Reporters. If your scarred you can wear your Majic Underwear to protect you!!!!

    May 3, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  11. Mike

    Mitt, Do you think that america will continue to lisen to this factless dribble that comes out of your mouth every time you speak? The GOP primary was all about blaming Obama for everything regardless of the facts! Get some facts before you speak about a sencitive issue like this! Get a plan for the USA if your going to run for POTUS! The hate and blame Obama tour is played out and will not work! You will lose by 15% points in November with this very ignorant plan for 2012!

    May 3, 2012 03:24 pm at 3:24 pm |
  12. Joi Gibson

    Blah, blah, blah, blah. Report to us when Willard actually has something of substance to SAY. Flapping your jaws every second to criticize the President about things of which you have no knowledge, shows well, a lack of knowledge.


    May 3, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  13. DAK2742

    But then again Romney would say anything, critisize anything, lie about anything to discredit our President. Mitt would sell his own mother into slavery to get the Whitehouse. Another failure, another Republican. Mitt, you lost my vote when you wouldn't talk about what YOU WOULD DO but rather focused on WHAT OBAMA HAS DONE. You are a liar and I don;t trust a word Mitt says about anything

    May 3, 2012 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
  14. Marie MD

    November can't come fast enough to shut this clown's trap once and for all because I can't believe he would try to run for anything ever again!
    please STFU!!!!! Your dealings with China have been to give them jobs exile taking the jobs from American workers. Myiu are a pathetic limo little man!!!
    Se don't give a rat's behind what your concerns are. You are talking tom listen to yourself speak. NOTHING you say means a darn!!!

    May 3, 2012 03:27 pm at 3:27 pm |
  15. Rudy NYC

    U.S. officials said he never requested asylum and that China gave assurances he and his family would not face further persecution, but after he left the embassy Chen said he wanted U.S. help to flee his native country because he feared for his family's safety.
    @Fair is Fair: He did not request asylum.

    May 3, 2012 03:28 pm at 3:28 pm |
  16. Laverne

    What's wrong Mitt, don't want to talk about Osama Bin Laden anymore? If I were you, I would change the subject too and of course he is criticizing the president, but will not take a real stance and say what he would do. He is such a punk!

    May 3, 2012 03:29 pm at 3:29 pm |
  17. Angel

    Romney needs to stick to firing people because when it comes to foreign policy, he's in way over his head.

    May 3, 2012 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  18. chilly g

    this is one of many reasons mitt will lose the election, we can bring everybody to the usa because there not happy in
    there own country and we can just demand to a country like china what they should be doing. there are peoples in
    atleast fifty(50) countries that want to come to the usa so mitt will you be speaker up for them i don't think so.

    May 3, 2012 03:32 pm at 3:32 pm |
  19. Gurgyl

    Robme is BS.

    May 3, 2012 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  20. Debra from Georgia

    you are out of your league, stop blaming the President, and give us some specifics.

    May 3, 2012 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  21. Kenny K

    Just like "We are Georgian" in 2008 by John McCain.

    May 3, 2012 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  22. vote the Tea Party OUT in 2012

    since when did Republicans care about ANY kind of activist? Activisim is normally a left-wing thing and Mitt should know this. Just anything to try to attack Obama on. PATHETIC!

    May 3, 2012 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  23. Kenny K

    Since Chen is a human right attorney, I believe he has been surviving in China all these years. Romney is just working hard to drag USA into another war.

    May 3, 2012 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  24. Flipper Rmoney Failure Ahead

    What Rmoney knows about embassy policies and practices wouldn't fill a thimble. Though it's nice to see the GOBP cult finally show some concern for human rights. Maybe they'll start focusing on the Bush war crimes next. Hahaha! I couldn't keep a straight face writing that last part.

    May 3, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
  25. FedUp

    I agree with Mitt for a change. Unbelievable, that I agree with him! This is what it looks like when America is so weak, and in debt to a communist country, that we can't even help a person who wants to live in freedom. I have a feeling that his family will meet with a series of unfortunate events (yeah, right) and all be dead in a month or two. So will Mr. Chen. Either that, or he will be buried in a cave somewhere. China has no belief in human rights, and Hillary, Barack and Joe all agree with them, based on comments since Obama has become President. Heads up folks!

    May 3, 2012 03:53 pm at 3:53 pm |
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