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May 21, 2012

Blind Chinese activist grateful to leave

Blind Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng is grateful to be out of China. (UPI/Dennis Van Tine)

NEW YORK (UPI) -- Blind activist Chen Guangcheng told reporters in New York that he's grateful the Chinese government allowed him to leave.

Chen, who escaped house arrest in April and took refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing before being hospitalized, arrived in the United States Saturday with his wife and two children on a United Airlines flight, The New York Times reported.

"I hope to see that they continue to open discourse and earn the respect and trust of the people," Chen said of his native China at a news conference near his new New York University apartment Saturday.

Chen will study law at the school and attend tutorials taught in Chinese and serve as a guest speaker at the university's U.S.-Asia Law Institute, The Washington Post reported.

Negotiations between the United States and China regarding Chen's release threatened to cause a diplomatic breach as the two countries were also seeking agreements on economic and security issues, the Times said.

The agreement allowed that Chen could seek studies in the United States, not asylum.

Chen was placed under house arrest in 2010 after spending four years in jail for protesting forced sterilizations and abortions in China.

He escaped April 22 and took refuge at the U.S. Embassy before being hospitalized.

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