The dramatic nighttime escape of a blind rights lawyer from extralegal house arrest in his village dealt a major embarrassment to the Chinese government and left the United States, which may be sheltering him, with a new diplomatic quandary as it seeks to improve its fraught relationship with Beijing.

The lawyer, Chen Guangcheng, one of the best-known and most politically savvy Chinese dissidents, evaded security forces surrounding his home this week and, aided by an underground network of human rights activists, secretly made his way about 300 miles to Beijing, where he is believed to have found refuge in the American Embassy, according to advocates and Chinese officials.

An official in the Chinese Ministry of State Security on Friday said that Mr. Chen had reached the United States Embassy, but American officials would not confirm reports that Mr. Chen had found shelter there.

Mr. Chen’s escape represents a significant public relations challenge for the Chinese government, which has sought torelegate him to obscurity, confining him to his home in the remote village of Dongshigu and surrounding him with plainclothes security guards, even though there are no outstanding legal charges against him.

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