WASHINGTON – This week, U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, sent President Biden a letter urging him to use his meeting with President Xi Jinping today to push for the immediate release of Americans and the families of American journalists being held in the People’s Republic of China (PRC).
As reported in an exclusive with Patricia Zengerle of Reuters, Chair Cardin asked President Biden to advocate for the immediate release of the American citizens currently being held in the PRC, including Mark Swidan, Kai Li, and David Lin. He is also calling for President Biden to raise the issue of an estimated 50 people who have been targeted by the PRC for being
“I write today to urge you to use your upcoming meeting with People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping to push for the immediate release of the American citizens currently being held in China, including Mark Swidan, Kai Li, and David Lin, as well as for the release and safety of several family members of brave Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists who are currently missing, jailed, or being detained in China seemingly due to their familial connection to these journalists,” said Chair Cardin.
An excerpt from the Reuters exclusive has been provided below:
Senator Ben Cardin wrote to Biden to push for immediate freedom for Mark Swidan, Kai Li and David Lin, whom the U.S. government has classified as wrongfully detained in China.
Cardin also asked for the release and safety of U.S.-based journalists' family members whom he said are missing, jailed or detained in China due to their connection to the journalists.
Families of Americans the U.S. government has classified as wrongfully detained in China have also repeatedly urged the government to prioritize the release of their loved ones in talks with Chinese officials.
A link to the Reuters exclusive can be found HERE, and full text of the letter is provided below:
Dear President Biden,
I write today to urge you to use your upcoming meeting with People’s Republic of China President Xi Jinping to push for the immediate release of the American citizens currently being held in China, including Mark Swidan, Kai Li, and David Lin, as well as for the release and safety of several family members of brave Radio Free Asia (RFA) journalists who are currently missing, jailed, or being detained in China seemingly due to their familial connection to these journalists.
The PRC has imprisoned Swidan, Li, and Lin several years, with no end to their captivity in sight. Their families have long petitioned PRC officials for their release, and urged the United States government to make progress on their cases and reunite them with their loved ones. With the holiday season approaching, and the opportunity to start the New Year on a more positive note in bilateral U.S.-China relations, I implore you to secure commitments from President Xi to release these Americans immediately.
In addition, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reports that U.S.-based Uyghur journalists (five of whom are U.S. citizens, and one is a green card holder) have an estimated 50 family members who are still in the PRC whom Chinese authorities have harassed and punished because of RFA’s reporting on the situation in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR). These relatives have reportedly been sent to re-education camps, labor camps, or prison and questioned about their American relatives’ work with RFA. Many of the RFA journalists have received calls from their detained family members, likely at the behest of the PRC authorities, asking them to stop working for RFA. Some of these journalists have also directly received calls from PRC officials threatening them and their family.
China has targeted these brave journalists and their families in China for reporting on the horrific situation Chinese authorities have created for Uyghurs in Xinjiang. Their reporting provided information vital to the State Department’s determination that the PRC under the direction and control of the Chinese Communist Party was committing genocide and crimes against humanity against Uyghurs in the XUAR.
RFA journalists are fulfilling the mission of RFA, which Congress mandated to: “provide accurate and timely news and information to Asian countries whose governments prohibit access to a free press.” It is therefore incumbent upon the United States to stand with the RFA, its journalists, and their families who are being targeted for fulfilling their critical mandate.
I ask that you raise this issue with President Xi and seek his assurances that his government will release and guarantee the safety of the relatives of these American journalists. While this is a long way from ending the CCP’s suppression of free speech, independent journalism and the horrific genocide and other persecution of Uyghurs and other ethnic minorities, it would be a small demonstration of good faith, as we seek to increase our diplomatic engagements with Beijing.