Diplomats Feared Chen Had Cancer

U.S. Embassy Beijing Press / Getty Images

Ambassador Gary Locke, left, escorted Chinese activist Chen Guangcheng from the U.S. embassy in Beijing on May 2.

A senior U.S. official told Foreign Policy Monday that personnel at the American Embassy in Beijing were worried that blind dissident Chen Guangcheng had advanced colon cancer when he arrived. Concerns about his health were so severe that officials sped up the timeline for Chen to leave the embassy and enter a Chinese hospital, the U.S. official said. Chen was found to be “bleeding profusely from his rectum,” the official said, and an embassy doctor’s diagnosis that Chen may have cancer “gave us a lot of anxiety.” According to the official, the Chinese would not allow medical equipment into the embassy where Chen took shelter after fleeing house arrest on April 22. It was reported Sunday that Chen has gastroenteritis.