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China Lawyer’s Family Tell of Narrow Escape Aided by U.S.

In this March 17, 2017, photo released by China Aid, Chen Guiqiu holds a “Welcome to America” sign with her daughters Xie Yajuan, 15, and Xie Yuchen, 4, at an airport in Texas.

In this March 17, 2017, photo released by China Aid, Chen Guiqiu holds a “Welcome to America” sign with her daughters Xie Yajuan, 15, and Xie Yuchen, 4, at an airport in Texas. AP file photo.

BEIJING (AP) — Stuck in a Bangkok jail with a deportation order against her, Chen Guiqiu waited with dread over what seemed certain to come next. A Thai immigration official showed her surveillance video of the jail entrance, where more than a dozen Chinese security agents were waiting.

Within minutes, Chen feared, she and her two daughters would be escorted back to China, where her husband, prominent rights lawyer Xie Yang, was held on a charge of inciting subversion — and where punishment for attempting to flee surely awaited her.

After weeks on the run, Chen was exhausted, and so was her luck. A Christian, she prayed: “Don’t desert us now, not like this.”

Help arrived, from America.

U.S. Embassy officials reached the jail and whisked Chen and her daughters away. The Chinese agents outside soon realized what had happened and pursued them, finally meeting in a standoff at the Bangkok airport where Chinese, Thai and U.S. officials heatedly argued over custody of the family.

Chen and her supporters disclosed details of her family’s March escape for the first time to the AP.

The saga demonstrates that in at least some cases, American officials are willing to push back, even at a moment weeks before President Donald Trump and Chinese leader Xi Jinping were to meet in Florida. The Trump administration has been criticized for downplaying human rights in foreign policy, but may have viewed Chen’s case as special — if not for herself then for her younger daughter, a 4-year-old American citizen.

Their ordeal began July 9, 2015, when China launched a crackdown on human rights lawyers. Chen’s husband, who has represented evicted farmers and pro-democracy activists, was among dozens detained and later charged with crimes against the state.

In January, Chen helped release her husband’s account of being beaten, deprived of sleep and otherwise tortured. Police summoned Chen for hours-long meetings where, she said, they threatened to evict her, deny her children schooling and have her fired from her job as a university professor.

Chen contacted Bob Fu, a Christian rights activist based in Texas who has helped several high-profile dissidents flee China … (read more)

via The Japan News

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