American Siblings Cynthia and Victor Liu Now Back in the U.S. After China Blocked Their Return Home

Photo: (Photo : STR/AFP via Getty Images)

A pair of American siblings finally came home to the U.S. three years after being barred from leaving China. Cynthia and Victor Liu are now back on U.S. soil following years of trying to lift the Chinese authorities' exit ban imposed on them.

According to CBS, Cynthia and Victor Liu did not have any criminal records, and it wasn't clear why China imposed a ban on the American siblings. It's also unclear if the Liu siblings' case was tied to Meng Wanzhou, the Huawei executive detained in Canada.

The day the exit ban on the American siblings was lifted was also the day Canada agreed to let go of Wanzhou after China released two Canadian citizens. The Liu siblings arrived in the U.S. Sunday, September 26, which also coincided with the request to drop the extradition of Wanzhou from Canada to the U.S. The White House press secretary, however, made it clear that the cases are not connected.

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Father's Criminal Ties

The American siblings, who were then 27 and 19, were visiting family and paying their respects to their grandmother in China in 2018. After the family affair, the brother and sister, together with their mother, Sandra Han, were barred from returning to the U.S. Both children had American passports, but the Chinese government regarded them as Chinese citizens under the jurisdiction of their laws.

CNN reported that the Liu family was under investigation for economic crimes because of their father, Liu Changming, who has been missing since 2007. Changming has outstanding cases of illegal loans, and a warrant for his arrest has been logged with worldwide Interpol since 2015.

However, the American siblings explained that they had been estranged from their dad and have had no communication with him for years. Before their exit ban, Victor was supposed to start his second year at Georgetown University while Cynthia was up for a new job in a New York firm.

In 2019, through their lawyers, Cynthia relayed their trauma of not being allowed to go home even if they had not done anything wrong. They have also sought help from Sen. Ed Markey and then-President Donald Trump, who met with President Xi Jinping at the G20 Summit.

"Victor barely understands the language," their attorney David Pressman said. "It's bewildering, it's difficult, it's stressful."

Warning on China's Exit Bans

The U.S. State Department warned American travelers that China "arbitrarily enforces local laws" like exit bans to pressure people to help with their investigations, especially those with relatives in the country. However, exit bans may also be imposed on disputes involving their citizens and foreigners.

Meanwhile, Markey issued a joint statement with Sen. Elizabeth Warren following Cynthia and Victor's return. The senators said that the siblings were used as pawns but nonetheless praised the efforts to ensure their return. Markey and Warren are still working on the release of the American siblings' mother.

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