Chen Guangcheng 

Distinguished Visiting Fellow, IPR
Fellow of the Center for Human Rights,
School of Arts & Sciences
  • Law

Chen Guangcheng is a Chinese civil rights lawyer and activist who has been a persistent voice for freedom, human dignity, and the rule of law in his native country.  Working in rural communities in China, where he was known as the “barefoot lawyer,” Chen advocated for the rights of disabled people, and organized class-action litigation against the government’s violent enforcement of its one-child policy. 


Blind since his childhood, Chen is self-taught in the law.  His human rights activism resulted in his imprisonment by the Chinese government for four years, beginning in 2006; after his release he remained under house arrest, until his escape from confinement in 2012, whereupon he came to the United States, where he was a scholar at New York University in 2012-13. 


In March 2015, his autobiography The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man's Fight for Justice and Freedom in China was published. 



Office - IPR

Office Phone:  202-319-5999

Email:  Chen's Assistant

"An electrifying memoir by the blind Chinese activist who inspired millions with the story of his fight for justice and his belief in the cause of freedom.
It was like a scene out of a thriller: one morning in April 2012, China's most famous political activist—a blind, self-taught lawyer—climbed over the wall of his heavily guarded home and escaped. Days later, he turned up at the American embassy in Beijing, and only a furious round of high-level negotiations made it possible for him to leave China and begin a new life in the United States...."
News & Notes
Chen Guangcheng speaks out against the Communist party in a solidarity protest for Hong Kong.

On Sunday, August 18, 2019 an estimated 1.7 million people in Hong Kong took to the streets in the largest ever pro-democracy protest there. Solidarity demonstrations happened in cities around the world, including this one with Chen Guangcheng in Washington, D.C.

(Open a Transcript of Chen's Speech)

William Saunders, J.D., Director of the Program in Human Rights, Institute for Human Ecology (l) and Chen Guangcheng (r) at the Oct. 9th event in Heritage Hall. 

  • Read Chen's article in the Washington Post "Trump has the Right Strategy on Beijing.  As a Chinese Dissident, I'd Know."

  • A link to a video replay of the above  event on Tiananmen Square can be found here.

In His Own Words

In His Own Words...

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A bipartisan group of lawmakers in the U.S. Congress reintroduced the Hong Kong Human Rights and Democracy Act to reaffirm American support for the rule of law in Hong Kong. Protesters there have been attacked for opposition to the proposed extradition law, and encroaching control by mainland China. The bill affirms U.S. support for democratization in China and calls for Hong Kong to remain sufficiently autonomous from the People's Republic of China.

2019- episode 12

Human rights activist Yang Maodong, whose pen name is Guo Feixiong, has been in prison in China for 5 years for the crime of campaigning against corruption and for press freedom. He was released in early August, 2019 and spoke to Chen Guangcheng by phone to convey that his spirits were good but his health was weak.  


  (All Episodes) 

2019- episode 11

Chen reports on human rights lawyer Chen Jingang who told the world about the torture in jail of his client Xie Yang.  After great pressure and harassment by the CCP, Chen Jingang has escaped with his family to the United States.

Awards & Speaking Engagements

2018 - Amnesty International Podcast

"In Their Own Words" 

Chen  Guangcheng's Story Narrated by Actor Christian Bale.  Bale also shares his experience trying to visit Chen in China.

2017 -  Thompson Reuters Trust Conference


Keynote Speaker, London

2014 - Oslo Freedom Forum

"China's Inevitable Transformation"

Speech by Chen Guangcheng

2013 - Oslo Freedom Forum

"China's Inevitable Transformation"

Speech by Chen Guangcheng Home
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