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American siblings back home after 3 years trapped in China

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Beijing — A pair of American siblings who were trapped for three years in China have returned home after Beijing lifted a so-called “exit ban” following Canada’s release of a top Chinese tech executive wanted in the U.S. on fraud charges. A State Department spokesperson said Cynthia and Victor Liu returned to the U.S. on Sunday after consular staff in Shanghai helped facilitate their departure.
 
A pair of Canadians held in China were also permitted to leave after Canada released Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou on Friday.
 
The State Department spokesperson, quoted on routine condition of anonymity in an undated statement, added that the U.S. opposes the use of “coercive exit bans against people who are not themselves charged with crimes” and would continue to “advocate on behalf of all American citizens in (China) subject to arbitrary detention and coercive exit bans.”

It was never clear why China had imposed an exit ban on the American siblings, and there case was never explicitly linked by Beijing to the detention of Meng in Canada.

The Lius traveled to China in 2018 to pay respects to their dying grandmother, but then found authorities blocking their departure at every border point.

Their estranged father, Liu Changming, is one of China’s most wanted fugitives. Liu, who fled the country in 2007, is the former executive of a state-owned bank and is linked to a $1.4 billion fraud case. The siblings’ lawyer has said the Chinese government was using them to try to convince their father to return to China, even though Cynthia and Victor always insisted they had no way of contacting him.

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Americans trapped in China make plea for help…

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In a video shared exclusively with CBS News in 2019, Cynthia Liu described being trapped in China as traumatic.

“We’ve done nothing wrong, and we need to go home,” Cynthia said. “We wake up every morning terrified.”

Cynthia was working for a New York consulting firm and Victor was studying at Georgetown University for his undergraduate degree when they arrived in China.

“Each time when they present themselves at the border, they are taken to a room, and then they are ultimately told that they are not allowed to leave,” the siblings’ lawyer David Pressman told CBS News’ Margaret Brennan in 2019. “Victor barely understands the language. I mean, it’s bewildering, it’s difficult, it’s stressful.”

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