Rep. Smith says Obama administration failed to connect him in phone call with Chinese activist Chen

Smith did not name the official who never called him back, but added that he would try to hold another hearing next week that includes Obama administration officials.

"Next week, I will look to convene another hearing of this commission on Chen in order to take testimony from the Obama administration witnesses and to get some answers," he said.

ADVERTISEMENT
Smith hastily organized the commission hearing on Wednesday in reaction to news reports that Chen fled to the U.S. Embassy after escaping a 19-month long-house arrest, but was later released to a Chinese hospital after being promised protection from U.S. officials. Smith recounted reports indicating that U.S. officials failed to protect him under pressure from China, as he was met by Chinese police at the hospital.

Chen later said he wanted to be flown out of China on the same plane that carries Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is in China for economic meetings with Chinese officials.

Smith said there are many questions he would like to have answered, such as how any agreement by the United States to protect Chen will be enforced, and the extent to which Chinese authorities might try to recapture Chen and his family.

Another member of the commission, Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), was also present at the hearing, and echoed Smith's call for the Obama administration to do as much as it can to protect Chen, including granting him and his family asylum.

"The Obama administration has a moral, a high moral obligation to protect Chen and his family," he said. "To do anything less would be scandalous."

"If news reports are to be believed about Chen's wishes, the administration must … grant him and his family asylum, and refuse, refuse, to apologize despite a Chinese government demand," Frank said.

"America missed an opportunity in Tiananmen," he added, referring to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in which China's military rolled into the square and several hundred protesters are thought to have been killed. "Will this administration too fail to see the historic moment?"