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Liu Changming: China holds official’s family hostage to force return

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Xi Jinping
Chinese
President Xi Jinping in Beijing in November 2017. His country is
holding a renegade official’s family as hostages to pressure him
to return.

REUTERS/Jason
Lee


  • China has spent years hunting Liu Changming, a renegade
    official accused of bank fraud.
  • When his estranged wife, son, and daughter visited
    China this June, Chinese officials refused to let them leave,
    The New York Times reported.
  • The wife was detained at secret site, and the children
    remain in China and aren’t able to leave. They are all US
    citizens.
  • Imposing exit bans — or forbidding travelers from
    leaving the country — is common practice in China.

China is holding a renegade official’s estranged family hostage
to pressure him to return to the country,
The New York Times reported
.

Beijing placed exit bans on the wife, son, and daughter of Liu
Changming, a former executive of a state-owned bank in Guangzhou,
when they visited their mother’s ailing father in southern China
this June, the Times said.

The ban stops them from leaving the country. Although the
children are seemingly able to travel and act freely within
China, they are effectively hostages of the state, prohibited
from going home.

The wife, Sandra Han, and children — Victor and Cynthia Liu, who
are 19 and 27 — are all American citizens, and entered China with
their US passports.

Victor was due to be a sophomore at Georgetown University, while
his sister Cynthia works at McKinsey & Company in New York.

Liu Changming is accused of being part of a $1.4 billion fraud
case, and officials in Beijing are trying to get him back to face
criminal charges.

He fled China in 2007, when officials
started investigating the suspects in the case
. His children
said he severed ties with the family in 2012.

His whereabouts are not known. China listed him on its 100
most-wanted fugitives list in 2015
, and Interpol issued an
international arrest warrant for his arrest, the Times reported.


guangzhou skyline
The skyline of Guangzhou, where Liu Changming
worked.

Siu
Chiu/Reuters


Han, the wife, was detained at a secret site days after their
arrival in June, the Times reported.

It said the children were forbidden to leave China when they
arrived at the airport at the end of their trip. Police told
the children that they were neither being investigated nor
charged with a crime, the Times said, but still could not go.

Cynthia Liu wrote in a letter to US national security adviser
John Bolton, according to the Times: “We are being held here as a
crude form of human collateral to induce someone with whom I have
no contact to return to China for reasons with which I am
entirely unfamiliar.”

Exit bans — the practice of forbidding travelers from leaving the
country — are not uncommon in China. The country’s officials have
imposed them on US citizens in the past to compel family members
or colleagues to cooperate,
the US State Department said
in a travel advisory.


china police
China
is no stranger to punishing the family members of its critics. A
police officer in Shanghai in 2015.

Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

Part of the playbook

China is no stranger to punishing the family members of critics
to pressure them into complying to the country’s will.

It placed the wife of Liu Xiaobo, a human rights activist, under
house arrest with 24-hour surveillance for eight years, even
though she hadn’t done anything wrong.

In 2016, officials also
forbade family members of Chinese-Canadian actress Anastasia
Lin
, who has publicly criticized China’s human rights record,
from leaving the country.


Read more:

Barging into your home, threatening your family, or making you
disappear: Here’s what China does to people who speak out against
them




mike pompeo
US
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, here in Washington, DC, in
February 2018, has lobbied for the Liu family in the
past.


Leah
Millis/Reuters




US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo mentioned the Liu family’s
plight in a meeting with a senior foreign policy official in
Washington, DC, last month.

The family and their associates hope that President Donald Trump
will raise the issue when he meets his Chinese counterpart, Xi
Jinping, at the G20 summit in Argentina later this week.

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