Sunday, May 7, 2017

China convicts Vietnamese American as a spy, then kicks her out of the country

Phan Phan-Gillis, center, is back in the U.S. after three and a half years in Chinese prisons.

PHAN PHAN-GILLIS, a resident of Houston, Texas, went to China on a business trip where she was accused of being a spy and found herself imprisoned for three and a half years in prison.

Although she initially claimed her innocence, she was released by Chinese authorities only after she was found guilty of being a U.S. spy.  After her conviction, she was deported to the U.S. April 29.

Phan-Gillis is of Chinese descent, but was born in Vietnam and is an American citizen who  worked as a business consultant in Houston, Texas. Known by friends as “Sandy”, she made numerous trips to China for business and as a volunteer to promote cultural and business exchanges.

On the latest exclusion to China, she disappeared from the rest of her group during a trip in March 2015 to promote business opportunities in Houston. It took her husband, Jeff Gillis, almost two weeks to confirm through American consular officials that she had been detained by Chinese state security.

He called the spy allegations against his wife ridiculous.

An official of the U.S. state department said it was aware of the deportation. 
“The United States welcomes her home,” said the official, who did not want to be identified by name. 
Negotiations to secure the release of Phan-Gillis intensified when Secretary of State Rex Tillerson visited Beijing in March, according to the San Francisco-based Dui Hua Foundation, which monitors human rights abuses in China.
The 57-year-old's return home eases a source of tension between Washington and Beijing, an indication of the current warmer relations between them.
In an interview with Reuters just before Phan-Gillis conviction and following deportation, Trump called Xi a “good man” and praised him for his efforts to press North Korea to give up its development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. 
“Sandy is overjoyed to be reunited with friends and family, and sends out her thanks to the many people who worked tirelessly for her release,” said her husband Jeff Gillis. 

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