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China, U.S. spar over detainees

Gao Zhan
Gao Zhan, a political scientist at American University in Washington, has been detained in China since February 11  

BEIJING, China -- China has shrugged off fresh U.S. condemnation of its detention of Chinese-born scholars who are now citizens or residents of the United States.

It also says the detainees would be handled according to law.

"China is a country ruled by law and those specific cases will be processed according to law," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue told a news conference on Thursday.

Zhang said she had no new information about detainees Li Shaomin and Wu Jianmin, both U.S. citizens, and permanent U.S. residents Gao Zhan and Tan Guangguang.

China is also detaining two other scholars, Teng Chunyan and Liu Yaping -- both are permanent U.S. residents.

On Wednesday, a U.S. House of Representatives panel condemned the continued detention of the Chinese-born scholars, who are accused of spying, and called for their immediate release.

The International Relations Committee unanimously backed a non-binding resolution urging President George W. Bush to make the scholars' release a top priority in dealing with China.

It says the United States should immediately send an envoy to China to reiterate its deep concern over the detentions.

On Tuesday, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, James Kelly, told members of the House of Representatives that U.S. officials continued to question Beijing about the detainees.

The detention of the scholars, which the Chinese government has yet to explain fully, is one in a long list of issues that have soured Sino-U.S. relations since the Bush administration took over in January.

However, the collision between a U.S. EP-3 surveillance plane and a Chinese fighter in early April had pushed the arrests, and pressure to do something about them, onto the back burner.

Recovery of the plane, which made an emergency landing on Hainan island, has only just started and may take several weeks.

Zhang said China hoped the work on the plane could be completed "as soon as possible," but she gave no details.

Reuters contributed to this report.

• Xinhua News Service
• U.S. House of Representatives

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