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American citizen Daniel Sue fought for four years to survive China,

Seattle residents was barred from leaving A pawn in a geopolitical game between two huge superpowers, despite committing no crime.

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Then earlier this month, just four days before a virtual meeting between President Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Suu was asked to prepare to go home. He had less than 48 hours.

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“It was absolutely crowded,” he told the Associated Press in a telephone interview from his home in Seattle.

As he ran to visit his grandmother, pack his things, and travel to Guangzhou, Sue knew nothing of the trade-offs between China and the United States. Build-up for video meetings longer than three hours Between Biden and Xi on November 15.

The two countries appeared to be trying to defuse tensions in their increasingly deteriorating relations, and Hsu had become the bargaining chip. He could return to Seattle, and seven Chinese nationals who were convicted of crimes in the US would be deported back to China.

China’s ability to effectively negotiate deals by holding people like Hsu hostage has raised concerns that Beijing may feel excited to double down on the practice, which has angered not only the US but also Canada, Australia and several European countries. given to those who say they are citizens. Arbitrary captives were also faced in China.

Sophie Richardson, China director of Human Rights Watch, said: “There are no restrictions imposed on Beijing for doing this again.” “The problem is that if you took the truly principled route, a lot of people would still be sitting in arbitrary detention in China.”

A US official who was knowledgeable about the administration’s talks with Beijing regarding Hsu told the AP that Hsu was not “deliverable” for the Biden-Xi meeting and that what looked like a prisoner exchange was in fact. was not a prisoner exchange in the U.S., but the product of long and sustained efforts to keep Beijing from fulfilling its international obligations. Officials were not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

“The PRC should never have forced US citizens to impose restrictions on exit. The PRC has failed to meet its international obligations to take back its citizens who have been ordered to be removed,” the official Said using the abbreviation for the People’s Republic of China. “There are additional Americans who are subject to evasion of sanctions and arbitrary detention in the PRC, and we will continue to work to secure their release.”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian takes a question at the daily media briefing in Beijing on April 8, 2020.  The spokesman said he was not sure about the details of Hsu's case, although he reiterated that the country handled matters according to the set rules.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said he was not clear on the details of Suu’s case, but that China handled such matters according to established rules.

“I would like to emphasize that all are equal under the law and that the relevant Chinese organs handle such matters in accordance with law and regulations,” Zhao told a daily briefing on Wednesday. “There is no tolerance for interference, slander or distortion in the performance of such duties.”

Hsu told the AP that Chinese authorities had effectively taken him hostage and were seeking to persuade his father to return to China and face justice for the alleged embezzlement of nearly $63,000 20 years ago, When he was the chairman of a government real estate company. Suu’s father has said she is innocent and the target of political vendetta.

From August 2017 to February 2018, Hsu was held in solitary confinement in Hefei, the capital of Anhui province. The walls of his beige room were covered with rubber, Hsu told the AP in a 2020 interview. The table was wrapped in a soft, brown leather. White blinds covered the two barred windows. There was no sharp edge.

Five surveillance cameras recorded his movements, and two guards remained silent, incessantly. They followed Sue to take a shower and stood beside her in the toilet.

The lights kept on all night long. If he rolled over on his mattress, the guards would wake him up and turn his face to a surveillance camera that had recorded him as he slept.

When he was released from the so-called education center, he was banned from exiting and barred from leaving China. Under Chinese law, authorities have broad discretion to prevent both Chinese citizens and foreign nationals from leaving the country. The US, Canada, Australia and the UK have issued advisories warning their citizens that they may be arbitrarily prevented from leaving China, even if they are not directly involved.

Hsu’s hostage involving China is not the first case of diplomacy.

In September, an agreement was reached to allow Meng Wanzhou, a senior executive of Chinese technology giant Huawei, to return home from Canada after a three-year diplomatic standoff. Meng had faced a US extradition request on charges of fraud for allegedly misrepresenting the company’s business deals with Iran.

Within hours of Meng’s release, Beijing freed two Canadians who had been detained in China on national security charges shortly after Meng’s arrest in Canada. China’s foreign ministry said Canadians at the time had been released for health reasons and underestimated any connection to Meng’s case. Canada has long said that men are innocent.

The next day, two American siblings – like Hsu – who were barred from leaving China for years in an apparent attempt to force their father to return to China, return to the United States.

Hsu’s fortunes did not change for the weeks leading up to the November video conference. Hsu said he received a call from the US embassy in Beijing on the afternoon of Thursday, November 11, four days before Xi and Biden spoke. He was instructed to move to Guangzhou, a southern Chinese megacity about 900 miles from his apartment in Shanghai. , on time for the charter flight home early that Sunday morning.

He had gone to visit his 103-year-old grandmother living in Shanghai. He cried when he told her he was leaving. “I could tell she was wondering if she would be able to see me again,” he said.

Sue had never told him about the ban on his exit because he was concerned for her health. He never told her about his six months of solitary confinement. Or the fact that his wife – innocent of any crime – was also barred from leaving China until last year, which were never clear to him. As a result, their teenage daughter was effectively orphaned for nearly three years, living alone in their large, empty home in Seattle.

On Sunday morning, November 14, a rare and brilliant blue sky rose over Guangzhou, and the sunshine seemed to match Sue’s mood. At the airport, he drove across the tarmac toward a waiting Gulfstream 5 jet—the plane that would eventually take him home.

Sue said she saw seven people descend, although she did not know who they were.

Only one of them – Xu Guojun, a former Chinese bank executive who is now bald and wearing baggy camouflage pants – was in handcuffs. A pair of cops dressed in hooded white hazmat suits with goggles, facemasks, blue gloves and blue booties took them off the plane.

Xu fled China in 2001 after being accused of embezzlement worth hundreds of millions of dollars. China’s Central Commission for Discipline Inspection made a statement trumpeting Xu’s return to the homeland as a “major achievement” in China’s global anti-corruption fight, which has intensified under Xi Jinping.

A federal court in Las Vegas sentenced the former Bank of China manager to conspiracy charges in 2009 and ordered him and his co-conspirators to pay $482 million in restitution. According to the Department of Homeland Security, he spent nearly 13 years in a US prison.

Two of the other returnees – Zhang Yujing and Lu Jing – tried to enter Mar-a-Lago in 2019. Zhang was sentenced to eight months for trespassing and lying with federal agents, while Lu was sentenced to 59 days for resisting arrest. DHS. Two others – Wang Yuhao and Zhang Jielun – were convicted of illegally photographing a naval air station in Key West, Fla., in 2020. According to DHS, the final pair – Sun Yong and Tang Junliang – were convicted of financial crimes in Utah. and Justice Department records.

And then it was Sue’s turn. He climbed ten steps to board the plane. He had a suitcase and a carry-on.

US citizen Daniel Hsu poses for a portrait at an apartment in Shanghai, China on April 13, 2020.

“I felt like I was already on American soil. It was really a relief,” Sue said. “I took a deep breath as I sat in my chair.”

He said he also spent the six-hour flight from Guangzhou to Guam reading “dune” in Mandarin, playing video games, and chatting with half a dozen Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers. Then there was a three-hour stopover in Guam and a seven-hour flight to Honolulu. He said he spent a 24-hour stay in Hawaii basically sleeping in his hotel room, then he got back on the jet for a five-and-a-half-hour flight to Phoenix.

In Phoenix, he switched to a commercial flight, which was delayed by about three hours. As Biden and Xi talk about Taiwan, trade, climate change and the mutual need to avoid conflict, Hsu leaves Phoenix airport exhausted and aimless. “I tried to read a book or something on my phone, I just can’t,” Sue said. “I couldn’t focus on anything. I couldn’t wait to see my wife.”

Finally, at around 10 p.m. local time, Hsu landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. A representative from the Office of the President’s Special Envoy for Hostage Affairs was waiting for him. So was his wife, Jodi Chen.

“I just grabbed her and gave her a hug,” Sue said. “A very big, very tight one.”

“Welcome home,” Chen said.

Thanksgiving this year promises a massive improvement over the holiday four years ago, which Hsu said he celebrated in solitary confinement in Hefei. He said he managed to convince his brain to bring him a special meal of Kentucky Fried Chicken there.

Sue said she was grateful to everyone who worked behind the scenes to bring her home. He said that he is happy to live in a free country but often thinks of his relatives. “I hope all is well with my family in China,” he said.

His eventual departure was so abrupt, Sue said he didn’t have time to think about what would happen next, beyond trying to recapture time with his family and regain the life and freedom he lost. Gave.

“I’m tired. Just tired,” he said. “I haven’t seen my parents for four years. I haven’t seen my wife for a year and a half. We have so many things to talk about.”