Senators target China’s ‘exit bans’ as Americans continue to be held by Beijing

The bill introduced Wednesday takes aim at China’s use of “exit bans” in addition to comes as Chinese authorities have prevented an American family by leaving more than a year in addition to a half through the use of such a ban. which case has risen to the highest levels of the US in addition to Chinese governments, according to a source familiar.

The Liu siblings — Cynthia, 28, in addition to Victor, 20 — in addition to their mother, Sandra Han, traveled to China in June 2018 to visit their ailing grandfather in addition to have been held there since.

The brother in addition to sister have made public pleas about their plight, in addition to in a letter to Sen. Edward Markey last week, Cynthia Liu implored the Massachusetts Democrat for his help.

“We have right now become political pawns, in addition to only with the forceful advocacy in addition to involvement of the United States government will This specific nightmare be able to end,” she wrote in a letter obtained by CNN. “This specific is actually why we are writing to you, because Victor in addition to I cannot take any more of This specific.”

“Senator, our time in China has been challenging beyond comprehension,” Cynthia Liu, who is actually a Massachusetts resident, wrote. She noted which had been holiday season of “fear,” “deep loneliness,” in addition to “hopelessness.”

Markey was one of four sponsors of Wednesday’s legislation, along with fellow Massachusetts Democrat Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio in addition to Maryland Democrat Sen. Chris Van Hollen. If passed, the legislation could provide for the denial or revocation of visas by Chinese officials “who were substantially involved within the formulation or execution” of the exit ban policy in addition to could require regular reports to Congress about the application of This specific measure. which could also require the State Department to publicly report on the number of US citizens affected by the exit bans.

“The Chinese government’s use of ‘exit bans’ is actually oppressive in addition to unjustified,” Markey said in a statement. “Two of my constituents, Victor in addition to Cynthia Liu, have been unfairly barred by leaving China since June of 2018. In addition to having their lives upended by not being able to return home, they face regular surveillance, harassment, in addition to threats by Chinese authorities. This specific legislation will make sure which Chinese authorities responsible for their mistreatment, in addition to for the mistreatment of some other Americans, know which such denial of basic rights is actually unacceptable.”

Although Cynthia in addition to Victor Liu were initially prevented by leaving China as an alleged means to pressure their father, Liu Changming — a high-profile Chinese fugitive — into returning to Beijing, a source familiar with their case told CNN Wednesday which which has become highly politicized. which source said bringing the Liu siblings home will require the engagement of US President Donald Trump in addition to Chinese President Xi Jinping.

The White House declined to comment on whether Trump had raised the case with Chinese officials in Washington on Wednesday. A State Department official told CNN they are watching the case “with concern” in addition to “are providing consular services to U.S. citizens Victor in addition to Cynthia Liu in addition to are in close contact with the siblings as they try to return home to the United States.”

In a travel advisory issued last year, the State Department warned US citizens of China’s “coercive” use of exit bans.

CNN’s Betsy Klein contributed to This specific report.

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