The U.S. Department of State has been ham-handed in the matter of Chinese dissident Chen Guangcheng ["Booming China still repressive," Editorial, May 1].

He sought asylum at the U.S. embassy at great personal risk, before being shuffled to a Beijing hospital and eventually offered a student visa. China and the United States dodged conflict this time, but kicked the can down the road as to addressing Chinese human rights problems and American asylum policy to Chinese.

It is interesting that U.S. immigration courts grant Chinese asylum by the thousands for complaints of forced sterilization and abortion, while the U.S. government permits abortion in this country. The United States gives asylum to Christians and Falun Gong, all the while contradicting some religous beliefs with its abortion policy in this country.

When a real dissident like Chen makes a valid, politically based claim against the Chinese government, the State Department avoids the issue, and his potentially explosive testimony in immigration court, by meekly giving him a student visa (despite no apparent registration in a U.S. college).

Politically based asylum claims against the oppressive Chinese regime are with merit. Chen deserves asylum. U.S. citizens deserve more integrity from our State Department.

Francis X. McQuade, Long Beach