WITH US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner due in China on Thursday, local and overseas activists say that Washington and Beijing are locked in delicate negotiations over the fate of Chen Guangcheng, the blind lawyer who fled from house arrest last Sunday and is thought to be in Beijing under US protection.
The talks may be complicated by what activists in Beijing say is Mr Chen's desire not to seek political asylum in the US but to remain in China to continue his campaign for democratic rights and the rule of law.
''He believes that China is in a period of intensive changes now, and it's not far away from the final fundamental change,'' said Hu Jia, a Beijing activist who says he met Mr Chen on Wednesday. ''He told me he didn't want to ask for political asylum in the US. Instead, he wants to 'stay in this land and continue to fight'.''