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    Activist Chen says China has promised to investigate abuse

    BEIJING - Rights advocate Chen Guangcheng says the Chinese government has quietly promised him it will investigate abuses he and his family suffered at the hands of local authorities, in a rare instance of Beijing bowing to demands of an activist.

    Beijing’s apparent willingness to look into the blind legal activist’s complaints is another sign that Chen’s gambit late last month - when he fled house arrest in his home town for the US Embassy and set off a diplomatic tussle - has succeeded in getting officials to address his concerns.

    Chen said an official from a central government bureau that handles citizens’ complaints has visited him in his Beijing hospital four times, including to take a statement last Thursday.

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    “After he took my statement, he said they would launch an investigation as long as there are facts, and that if there are facts about the illegal actions, then the issue definitely would be openly addressed,’’ Chen said in an interview Monday.

    Chen said it remained to be seen how seriously Beijing would investigate abuses by township and county officials, which began in 2005 after Chen angered local authorities by documenting forced late-term abortions and sterilizations.