Pelosi applauds administration on Chen deal

Chen, a blind lawyer with a long history of criticizing China's human-rights record, fled house arrest two weeks ago and sought refuge in the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.

Chen left the embassy Wednesday as part of an agreement between the two countries allowing him to stay in China but maintain ready access to U.S. diplomats. That deal fell apart when Chen, accusing Chinese officials of threatening his family, asked to leave the country.

Republicans, including GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney, hammered the administration's handling of the fragile negotiations, saying officials didn't do enough to ensure Chen's well-being upon his release from the U.S. Embassy.

Romney said Obama "failed to put in place the kind of verifiable measures that would have assured the safety of Mr. Chen and his family."

Clinton said Friday that the Chinese government will give Chen a student visa to travel, along with his family, to the United States, where he's been offered a fellowship. 

"From the beginning, all of our efforts with Mr. Chen have been guided by his choices and our values," Clinton said. "Over the course of the day, progress has been made to help [Chen] have the future he wants, and we will be staying in touch with him as this process moves forward."

Pelosi's advocacy for Chen dates at least as far back as 2006, when Chen was imprisoned for his human-rights work.

"Chen Guangcheng is a champion of the Chinese people, and his brave actions should be praised by the government instead of persecuted," Pelosi said at the time. "Chinese authorities should acknowledge the exposure of official abuses and immediately and unconditionally release him from prison."

When she was Speaker in 2007 and 2009 she twice wrote to Chinese President Hu Jintao asking him to release several dissidents, including Chen, who was serving a 51-month sentence for disrupting public order.