Amid celebrations over activist deal, US officials admit they haven’t told Chen Guangcheng that Santa Claus doesn’t exist

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By QU XIE
Dissident Correspondent

Ambassador Gary Locke briefly considers whether now would be a good time to drop the bomb

BEIJING (China Daily Show) – It seemed a rare moment of success for both US and Chinese officials: a deal to allow a fugitive activist, who’d escaped rural detention to seek refuge at the US Embassy, had been grudgingly agreed – all against a dramatic backdrop of trade talks and a media frenzy.

The catch? American diplomats have still to break the news to dissident Chen Guangcheng that many popular US institutions – such as equal rights, better education and Santa Claus – are not really true.

Chen is expected to begin his studies at New York University after China issues him with proper travel documents.

Speaking over the phone on condition of anonymity from the US Embassy this weekend, a diplomat told China Daily Show that they intend to break the news to Chen “soon. Not yet. Only when he’s ready.”

In the background, an embassy party was clearly in full swing: champagne corks could be heard popping, amid cries of “It’s go time!”and  “U-S-A!” over a Ted Nugent soundtrack.

The celebratory atmosphere was, perhaps, understandable.

The tense 24-hour negotiations had followed a fraught five-day diplomatic wrangle, which came about after an utterly unspeakable two-year illegal detention, that ensued because of a despicable four-year jaywalking sentence, all the result of a vomit-inducing campaign of forced abortions and sterilizations in Shandong province.

Beijing has hailed it as a victory for rule of law. The moment has been marked in the country’s own idiosyncratic way, with activists being detained and at least one foreign reporter expelled.

Many activists in China continue to hold the US in high regard – due, in part, to the ridiculously low regard in which they hold China. This can result in many believing that the US is a fantasy land where fairness and human rights romp free, experts say.

“I’ve actually heard some of them say that America is a beacon of truth, justice and democracy,” one lawyer admitted. “I haven’t the heart to correct them.”

Last week, Chen is said to have told Hillary Clinton he was “looking forward to meeting Santa Claus.” Friends now say this was a misunderstanding and Chen meant to say he was looking forward to “meeting President Obama.”

“One can totally understand the mistake,” the diplomat admitted. “A lot of American voters also used to think the same thing.”

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