March 16, 2017

Senators Seek Release of U.S. Citizen Sandy Phan-Gillis From Two-Year Detention in China

WASHINGTON – Ahead of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s scheduled visit to Beijing on Saturday, U.S. Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Ben Cardin (D-Md.), the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, led a bipartisan letter to China’s ambassador to the United States seeking the release of Sandy Phan-Gillis, an American citizen and Texas resident who has been held without trial in China since March 19, 2015. Senators Chris Coons (D-Del.), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), and Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also signed the letter. 

“We write to you to express serious concerns about the continued detention of Sandy Phan-Gillis, an American citizen, in China,” the senators wrote. “On the eve of her two years in detention, we urge your government to immediately release Mrs. Phan-Gillis. The U.S.-China relationship is one of the most consequential relationships in the world. We appreciate the importance of constructive relations between the United States and China. However, we do not believe that Mrs. Phan-Gillis’ continued detention serves the shared interests of Washington and Beijing.”

Full text of the letter is included below, and a signed copy is available here.

The Honorable Cui Tiankai

Embassy of the People’s Republic of China

3505 International Place NW

Washington, D.C. 20008

Dear Ambassador Cui:

We write to you to express serious concerns about the continued detention of Sandy Phan-Gillis, an American citizen, in China. On the eve of her two years in detention, we urge your government to immediately release Mrs. Phan-Gillis.

The U.S.-China relationship is one of the most consequential relationships in the world. We appreciate the importance of constructive relations between the United States and China. However, we do not believe that Mrs. Phan-Gillis’ continued detention serves the shared interests of Washington and Beijing.

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s upcoming visit to Beijing presents an invaluable opportunity for the United States and China to create an atmosphere for strengthening relations between the United States and China under the new U.S. administration, including possible plans for a summit meeting between President Trump and President Xi. 

The release of Mrs. Phan-Gillis would go a long way towards creating such an atmosphere, and we urge your government to do so without delay.

Thank you in advance for your attention to this matter.

Sincerely, 

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Sean Bartlett 202-224-4651