Guangcheng Chen

Distinguished Fellow, Center for Human Rights, School of Arts and Sciences

Faculty of the Master of Arts in Human Rights, The Institute for Human Ecology at The Catholic University of America



Research Interests and Expertise: 

Global Human Rights Violations and Religious Persecution, Crimes of Chinese Communist Party (CCP), Population Control/One-Child Policy/Forced Abortions, Rule of Law and Social/Grassroots Unrests in China, Infiltration/Aggression of CCP to U.S. and Free World, Totalitarian vs Democracy


Known to many as “the barefoot lawyer,” Mr. Chen was born and raised in a poor, remote village in Shandong, China.  Blind since infancy, illiterate until his late teens, he nonetheless taught himself law and became a committed fearless advocate for the welfare and rights of tens of thousands of voiceless women, the disabled, and the poor in China. His work to defend human rights and bring justice to those facing persecution drew the attention of the Communist authorities, leading to harassment, black jails, tortures, and repeated house arrests for over 11 years. After 20 months of brutal detention in his own home, he escaped his village, later seeking safety at the American embassy in Beijing. High-level diplomatic negotiations secured his travel to the US, for study at New York University Law School.  Mr. Chen is an internationally renowned human rights activist who has fearlessly advocated for the welfare and rights of women, the disabled, and the poor in China. His ardent and courageous human rights advocacy has received extensive international acclaim and has drawn heightened international attention the maltreatment of women and abuses of China’s one-child policy, including forced abortions and sterilizations. Mr. Chen has been the recipient of numerous national and international awards including The Time Magazine 100 Most Influential List (2006), The Ramon Magsaysay Award (2007), The Lantos Human Rights Prize (2012), The UK Parliament’s Westminster Award (2013), and The Geneva Summit for Human Rights and Democracy Courage Award (2014).  He has served as Distinguished Fellow at IHE of CUA, Distinguished Senior Fellow in Human Rights at the Witherspoon Institute, and Senior Distinguished Advisor to the Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. 

Professional Activities:

  • Distinguished Senior Fellow (9/2013 – present), in Human Rights at the Witherspoon Institute, 
  • Senior Distinguished Advisor (9/2013 – present), Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice. 
  • Principal Investigator (2013), Research Grant to protect and advance human rights and scientific freedom of scientists, funded by the Committee for Concerned Scientists.
  • Citations by Media (2006 – present), Mr. Chen’s accomplishments and contributions have been covered by countless major media outlets around the world, including Time, The Guardian, Foreign Policy, The Economist, The Washington Post, The Daily Beast, The Atlantic, The Epoch Times, Amnesty International, Women’s Rights without Frontier, The New York Times, China Digital Times, etc. 
  • Honorary Member (2013 – present), The New York City Bar, for extraordinary courage in using law to advance the public interest.

Selected Scholarly Work (from 100+ Articles/Op-Eds/Speeches):

  • Book:  G.C. Chen, “The Barefoot Lawyer: A Blind Man’s Fight for Justice and Freedom in China,”  13 chapters, 330 pages, Henry Holt & Co., NY, NY, 2015, ISBN: 978-0-8050-9805
  • Recent ArticlesG.C. Chen,Don’t Be Fooled By The CCP’s Boasting,” The Newsweek, 11/9/2021

G.C. Chen,Why clear action now in response to Hong Kong is urgent,” The Hill, 7/17/2021, 

G.C. Chen, The Chinese Communist Party Still Controls the Family,” Newsweek, 6/171/2021,

G.C. Chen, Full Speech at 2020 Republican National Convention, Night 3,” PBS NewsHour, 8/26/2020, 


    • Recipient, The Geneva Summit Courage Award in 2014, by 20+ international HR NGOs. 
    • Recipient, The Westminster Award for Human Life, Human Rights and Human Dignity in 2013 by UK Parliament.
    • Recipient, The Katharine & George Alexander Law Prize in 2013 by Santa Clara University.  
    • Recipient, The Women’s Rights Champion in 2013, by Women’s Rights Without Frontiers.
  • Recipient, The Religious Freedom and Rule of Law Courage Award in 2013 by Christian human rights organization ChinaAid for protection of  human rights and rule of law in China. 
  • Recipient, Champion for Freedom of Speech Award in 2013, by The Visual Artists Guild.
  • Recipient, The Justice Janie Shores Trailblazer Award in 2013, by American Litigation Counsel.
  • Recipient, The Lantos Human Rights Prize (International), at the U.S. Capitol in 2012, by Lantos Foundation for Human Rights and Justice.
  • Recipient, The Oxi Day Award in 2012, by The Washington Oxi Day Foundation.
  • Recipient, The Global Thinkers Award in 2012, by The Foreign Policy Magazine.
  • Recipient, The Rebel of the Year in 2012, by The Gentleman’s Quarterly Magazine.
  • Recipient, The Brave Thinker Award in 2012, by The Atlantic Magazine.
  • Recipient, The Human Rights Award in 2012, by The Human Rights First.
  • Recipient, The James Madison Award in 2012 for Distinguished Public Service, by Princeton University’s Whig-Cliosophic Society.
  • Recipient, The Democracy Award in 2008, by U.S. National Endowment for Democracy.
  • Recipient, The Ramon Magsaysay Award (International) for Emergent Leadership in 2007, which in memory of Filipino President Magsaysay, is considered Asia’s Nobel Prize. 
  • Recipient, The Freedom of Expression Award in 2007, by UK’s Index on Censorship.
  • Recipient, The Time Magazine 100 Most Influential List in 2006, by the Time News Magazine.
  • Recipient, The Prisoner of Conscience Award in 2006, Amnesty International.
  • Recipient, The Cover in 2002, The Newsweek Magazine.