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U.S. welcomes release of academic detained in China

China-U.S.
The issue has been a thorn in the side of U.S.-China relations  


By Kelly Wallace
CNN White House Correspondent

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The State Department welcomed China's decision to release U.S.-based academic Li Shaomin on Saturday, calling his detention a matter of "great concern to many people in the United States" and one the U.S. "raised at high levels with the Chinese government."

The Chinese detained Li in February, and formally charged him with espionage in May.

After a four-hour trial at Beijing's First Intermediate People's Court that was closed to the public, Li was convicted of espionage and sentenced to deportation Saturday.

"We welcome China's decision to release Mr. Li so that he can be reunited with his family," said a State Department official.

The United States also called on China to release three other Chinese academics with U.S. ties -- Wu Jian Ming, a U.S. citizen, and permanent U.S. residents, Gao Zhan and Quin Guang.

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"We continue to urge the Chinese government to promptly resolve the cases of those who have been similarly detained... so that they may also be reunited with their families in the United States," said the State Department official.

Li's wife Liu Yingli, who spoke to CNN by phone, says "I'm happy to hear the news and I thank all the people who helped me. ... and I thank the U.S. government who take care of their citizens. I thank people who give me a lot of help from Hong Kong to Washington."

In an interview with CNN earlier this month, Li's 9-year-old daughter Diana said she wrote U.S. President George W. Bush in late April asking for his help. The president wrote back promising to monitor the situation closely, so she decided to write Bush again.

" 'I miss him, his jokes and the time we spent together,' " Diana told CNN, reading the letter she sent the president. " 'I still need your help to bring him home. Please tell the president of China to let him go.' "

Diana and her mother also lobbied members of Congress to urge the Bush administration to press China for Li's release.

Bush spoke last Thursday with China's President Jiang Zemin and raised the issue of scholars with ties to the U.S. being detained by the Chinese.

"He talked... about the cases of these American citizens and permanent residents and the importance of transparency, the importance of humanitarian considerations," said Condoleezza Rice, the president's national security adviser, in a briefing with reporters Friday. "We have a human rights agenda with China. I think the Chinese expect it and we'll continue to pursue that in our bilateral relationship." -- CNN correspondent Lisa Rose Weaver contributed to this report.






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• Government Information Office, Republic of China
• US Department of State - Home Page

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