US lawmakers urge Trump to pressure China on detainees

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – On the eve of the planned signing of the first phase of a trade agreement between the United States and China, a bipartisan group of US lawmakers has asked President Donald Trump to press Beijing to release detained Americans and U.S. residents .

A member of the House staff adjusts an American flag before a press conference at the US Capitol. UU. In Washington, USA UU., January 14, 2020. REUTERS / Tom Brenner

Lawmakers, six senators and representatives of the House of Representatives, expressed “deep concern” over the imprisonment of China or the arbitrary detention of US citizens and permanent residents and the imposition of exit bans on Americans.

“We request that they meet with the families of Americans whose loved ones are held in China and persistently raise the … cases in talks with President Xi Jinping and other senior Chinese officials,” they said in a letter to Trump. public on Tuesday.

He listed seven detained US citizens or permanent residents, including two pastors, a businessman and two Americans who ran an English teaching company.

The letter says that the Chinese government used exit bans as a tool “that disproportionately targets US citizens of Chinese descent.”

Lawmakers also asked Trump to seek the release of relatives of US citizens and permanent residents detained in the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region, where the Chinese government is accused of mass persecution of Muslims.

“These family members … need the administration to defend them stubbornly and the 1.8 million ethnic Uighurs and other estimated Turkish Muslims arbitrarily detained in the XUAR,” the letter said.

Lawmakers who signed the letter were led by Republican Marco Rubio and Democratic Representative Jim McGovern, co-chairs of the Executive Commission of the Congress on China.

The Chinese embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The signing of the first part of the trade agreement on Wednesday should facilitate Trump’s 18-month trade war with China, but will do nothing to reduce a growing strategic rivalry, in the midst of which US officials have increasingly pointed to history. of human rights of China.

China said in October that two US citizens mentioned in the letter, Alyssa Petersen and Jacob Harlan, who worked for the US-based China Horizons educational company, had been released on bail and awaiting trial on charges of illegally transferring people to across the country’s borders.

The letter of Congress also named John Cao, a pastor and a permanent legal resident of the United States. UU. He said he was sentenced to seven years in prison, also for allegedly organizing “illegal border crossings,” and Kai Li, a US citizen arrested on state security charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2018.

The letter also included David Lin, an American pastor arrested in 2006 and convicted of charges related to fraud, which is not scheduled for release until 2030, and Victor and Cynthia Liu, who are said to have been prevented from leaving China since 2018 .

The letter says that his mother, Sandra Han, was arrested on criminal charges in China and the New York-based family lawyer believed they were being used as a human collateral to force his father, Liu Changming, to return to China to face fraud charges.

David Brunnstrom report; Edition by Dan Grebler

Our Standards:The Principles trust Reuters Thomson.


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