Chen Guangcheng arrived in New York

Blind Chinese lawyer Chen Guangcheng has arrived in New York with his family.

Shuffling in front of the cameras for his first news press conference in America he said: “I hope everybody works with me to promote justice and fairness in China.”

He had emerged from 17 days confined in a Beijing hospital and years under illegal house arrest and yet seemed remarkably composed and at home addressing scores of reporters and cameras.

His arrival was the latest stage in an extraordinary journey from rural provincial China. There he championed thousands of victims of forced abortions and sterilisations as a self-taught lawyer.

He was jailed for four years and persecuted for his efforts and then made a captive in his own home by gangs of thugs working for provincial authorities.

He has claimed they abused his mother, wife and young daughter in differing ways and prevented him from practising law.

Astonishingly he gave the authorities the slip one night a month ago and turned up in the US Embassy in Beijing on the eve of a visit by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

Initially he agreed to leave because of assurances made by the Chinese government but fears for his family and distrust of the authorities forced him to change heart and ask to be allowed to move to America.

He left behind family and friends, some of whom have been targeted by state agents.

Republican Congressman Chris Smith told Sky News that Mr Chen was in good spirits having met him after his flight, but he was deeply concerned about the relatives he has left behind.

His departure allows China to try and heal the deep rift left with the United States by the affair, but will not end the embarrassment.

Mr Chen has shown remarkable resourcefulness and courage and a talent for keeping the media interested in his story.

The plight of close relatives who he says are still be harassed and physically abused by Chinese authorities will give him plenty of motivation to continue publicising his concerns.

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