Shortly before President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping met this week for a virtual summit, the United States returned seven Chinese nationals convicted of crimes to China and Beijing lifted a travel ban on a US citizen blocked from leaving. for four years.
One of the Chinese citizens who was repatriated was a woman convicted of trespassing in 2019 after entering former President Donald J. Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort with a stash of electronics, a senior government official said. The official spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive diplomatic matters.
The Chinese Foreign Ministry declined to comment.
The measures came less than two months after the United States reached an agreement to allow Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive at Chinese tech giant Huawei, to return home after a diplomatic standoff of nearly three years. China responded within hours and released two Canadians it had been holding since shortly after Ms. Meng was arrested in Canada.
Two American siblings who had been blocked from leaving China for more than three years were also allowed to return to the United States at the time. 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. But their father, Liu Changming, a former director of a Chinese bank, was wanted by Chinese police for his role in a fraud case.
The travel ban for the children of Mr. Liu was seen as a way to get Mr. Pressure Liu to return to China and turn himself in.
The series of diplomatic actions appeared to be aimed at easing tensions between the two governments, which have become increasingly confrontational over trade, technology, human rights, the future of Taiwan and other issues. At their video summit this week, Mr. Biden and Mr. Xi did not reach any breakthrough agreements, agreeing only on the need to prevent frictions from escalating into all-out conflict.
The American who was allowed to leave China this month, Daniel Hsu, has not been convicted of crimes in China. Mr. Hsu told the Associated Press last year that Chinese authorities blocked him and his wife from returning to their home in Washington state in August 2017, in what Mr. Hsu said was an apparent attempt to convince his father. return to China and face embezzlement charges. Mr Hsu’s father, Xu Weiming, has denied the allegations, the AP reported.
Mr Hsu’s return to the United States was previously reported by Reuters.
The State Department has warned Americans considering traveling to China of the risk of “arbitrary detention and travel bans”. In most cases, the ministry says, U.S. citizens are not notified of a travel ban until they try to leave China.
One of the Chinese citizens 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. After Ms. Zhang was questioned by the Secret Service, agents arrived and discovered she was carrying four cell phones, a laptop and an external hard drive. They found more items in her room at another hotel.
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The incident exposed holes in Mr Trump’s security apparatus. But during the trial of Ms. Zhang in Fort Lauderdale, before the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida, was not tried to determine whether she was guilty of espionage.
The Miami Herald reported this month that Ms. Zhang finished serving her eight-month sentence at the end of 2019, but was then held in immigration detention for much longer due to “deportation delays” related to the coronavirus pandemic.
China’s foreign ministry also announced this week the repatriation from the United States of Xu Guojun, a former bank executive who fled China two decades ago after being accused of corruption and embezzlement. A federal jury in Las Vegas found Mr. Xu guilty of conspiracy in 2008.
The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs praised Mr. Xu to China as a “great achievement” in the authorities’ 20-year pursuit of justice in this case.