Shortly before President Biden and China’s leader, Xi Jinping, met for a virtual summit this week, the United States sent seven Chinese nationals who had been convicted of crimes back to China, and Beijing lifted an exit ban on an American citizen who had been blocked from leaving for four years.
One of the Chinese nationals who was repatriated was a woman who had been convicted in 2019 of trespassing after she had entered former President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort with a cache of electronics, according to a senior administration official. The official spoke under anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic issues.
China’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
These actions came less than two years after the United States reached an accord to allow Meng Wanzhou – a senior executive at Chinese tech company Huawei – to return home. Two Canadians were released by China within hours of Ms. Meng’s arrest in Canada.
Two American siblings, who were prevented from leaving China for over three years, were allowed to return to the United States. The siblings — Victor Liu, a student at Georgetown University, and Cynthia Liu, a consultant at McKinsey & Company — had never been accused of wrongdoing in China. Their father, Liu Changming was a former executive at an Chinese bank and was being sought by Chinese police for his involvement in a fraud investigation.
The exit ban on Mr. Liu’s children was seen as a way to pressure Mr. Liu to return to China and turn himself in.
The diplomatic actions seemed to be intended to calm tensions between the governments, which have become increasingly antagonistic on issues such as trade, technology, human right, and others. At their video summit this Wednesday, Mr. Biden was unable to reach any breakthrough agreements. Instead, he and Mr. Xi agreed that frictions must be prevented from escalating into conflict.
Daniel Hsu (American) was allowed to leave China last month. He has not been convicted for any crimes in China. According to Mr. Hsu, the Chinese authorities prevented him and his wife from returning home to Washington State in August 2017. This was in an apparent attempt to persuade his father to return to China to face embezzlement and other charges. Mr. Hsu’s father, Xu Weiming, denies the charges, The A.P. reported.
Mr. Hsu’s return to the United States was reported earlier by Reuters.
The State Department has been warning Americans who are considering travel to China of the risk of “arbitrary detention and exit bans.” In most cases, the department says, U.S. citizens only become aware of an exit ban when they try to leave China.
One of the Chinese nationals whom the United States sent back to China last Friday is Yujing Zhang, a businesswoman who talked her way into Mr. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club in 2019. Agents found out that Ms. Zhang was carrying four cellphones and a laptop. Agents found additional gear in Zhang’s room at another hotel.
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The incident exposed holes in Mr. Trump’s security apparatus. But Ms. Zhang’s trial in Fort Lauderdale, at the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, did not attempt to address whether she had been engaging in espionage.
The Miami Herald reported this month that Ms. Zhang finished serving her eight-month sentence in late 2019 but was held in immigration custody for much longer thereafter because of “deportation delays” related to the coronavirus pandemic.
China’s foreign ministry this week also announced the repatriation from the United States of Xu Guojun, a former bank executive who had fled China two decades ago after being accused of corruption and embezzlement. In 2008, a Las Vegas federal jury found Mr. Xu guilty in conspiracy charges.
The Chinese foreign ministry hailed Mr. Xu’s return to China as a “major achievement” in the authorities’ 20-year pursuit of justice in the case.
Source: NY Times