Here you go. Quick version: he was in the Embassy, he didn't want asylum, and the US and China have agreed a deal whereby he and his family will be resettled somewhere in China and he will be permitted to go to university. As of right now, Chen is in Chaoyang Hospital, Beijing, having treatment for the foot he injured when he went over the wall of his family compound. His family have been brought from Shandong to meet him, which indicates that Beijing has finally taken some steps to rein in its people in Linyi: whether it takes any more remains to be seen.
He Peirong, the activist who helped Chen escape, and Chen Kegui, CGC's nephew who went on the run after defending the family from a mass goon attack after the escape was discovered, are still in detention.
So just to re-iterate: a blind man scaled the wall of a compound where he was being detained by something like 100 people and then hobbled 20 kilometres on a broken foot to where a car was waiting for him before going on to cause a medium level diplomatic incident. That's the dog's bollocks, that is, to give niubi it's colloquial British English translation.
The fact that Chen is staying in China isn't so surprising. He was always insistent that he wanted to stay, which was why I was a bit sceptical at first of reports that he'd gone to the Embassy. Chen apparently spoke to Hillary Clinton by phone on his way to hospital, reportedly saying that he 'wanted to kiss her'. She should take him up on that. It would be one in the eye for that old hound dog Bill.
The SecState is in town with Geithner and a travelling army of understrappers for the biannual Sino-US strategic dialogue. It's not unlikely that Chen's escape was timed for precisely this moment, when both sides had an acute interest in bringing his case to a rapid and mutually satisfactory conclusion.
If so it's nice work and it raises some interesting questions about the way the US is getting sucked into internal Chinese politics. In the Wang Lijun case, a request for asylum was apparently turned down - no-one knows for sure - but they let Wang hang around the Chengdu consulate until a team from Beijing could come down and extract him from Bo Xilai's clutches. Now we have a situation where Chen and the people helping him have apparently used the US Embassy in Beijing as a sort of petitioning office of last resort.
Arguably this gives the US additional leverage in dealing with China, but there's also a strong element of the dog being wagged here. Back in 2009 Clinton said explicitly that she didn't want linkage between human rights issues and other areas of Sino-US engagement. If other people in China start thinking that a visit to the nearest US diplomatic compound might get them out of whatever jam they are in, she might not have any choice.
UPDATE This is getting messy:
A close friend of Chen Guangcheng says the blind legal activist agreed to stay in China only to protect his family after receiving threats that his wife would be beaten to death if he left the country.
Beijing activist Zeng Jinyan told The Associated Press on Wednesday via Skype that she had just finished talking to Chen, who is in a Beijing hospital with his wife and children.
Zeng said Chen told her that he wanted to go to abroad but was forced to accept a deal to remain in China and go to law school in order to protect his family.
More as I have it.
UPDATE the second. If this wasn't garbled in some way, it's astonishing:
Blind legal activist Chen Guangcheng says a U.S. official told him that Chinese authorities threatened to beat his wife to death had he not left the American Embassy.
Speaking by phone from his hospital room in Beijing on Wednesday night, a shaken Chen told The Associated Press that U.S. officials relayed the threat from the Chinese side.
Chen, who fled to the embassy six day ago, left under an agreement in which he would receive medical care, be reunited with his family and allowed to attend university in a safe place. He says he now fears for his safety and wants to leave the country.
So first there's a threat to beat his wife to death. This is made to US diplomats. Diplomats go to Chen and say, 'hey Guangcheng, they're going to beat your wife to death if you don't leave the Embassy. What do you want to do.' Words fail.
OK, Final update. It's now around 2am Beijing time, so I guess there won't be much more till tomorrow. Anyway: The State Department denies that anyone passed on any threats to him while he was at the Embassy. Chen still insists that it happened. I don’t think this is something you’d mishear. Either Chen’s right or the State Department is right. State does admit that diplos passed on the Chinese side's insistence that Chen's wife and kids would be sent back to Shandong if he didn't leave. That itself is an implicit threat.
Elsewhere - via ChinaGeeks on twitter - Chen's lawyerTeng Biao spent the evening in phone conversation with Chen, at one point advising him to call the Embassy and make it clear that he wanted to return. He says that Chen told him he made the call but that the Embassy didn’t pick up.
Teng Biao had his last conversation with Chen at 11pm, Beijing time. After that he couldn’t get through. It’s quite possible that Chen might be asleep. He’s had a long day.