Senators Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released a statement and contributed to legislation this week supporting the release of Cynthia Liu and Victor Liu (COL ’21) from China.
Chinese authorities have prevented Liu and his older sister, Cynthia, who are U.S. citizens, from leaving China since June 2018 under an exit ban, which bars travelers from leaving the country. Warren and Markey, who represent the Liu siblings’ home state, released a Jan. 14 statement urging the Chinese government to release the Lius. The previous week, Cynthia penned a letter to Markey urging the U.S. government to push for their release, according to CNN.
Chinese police hope to compel the Lius’ estranged father, Liu Changming, to return to China to face criminal charges. Changming, who is accused of participating in a $1.4 billion fraud scheme, left China in 2007 and cut ties with the family. When the Liu siblings visited China with their mother, Sandra Han, to visit their dying grandfather in June 2018, authorities then imposed the exit ban blocking their return to the United States. The siblings have since lost contact with Han, who is being detained in a secret holding facility.
The Liu siblings’ detainment is unwarranted, and their release is overdue, according to Warren.
“China’s use of exit bans on my constituents and other American citizens is unacceptable and must end,” Warren said in the shared press release. “The Liu siblings are confined to Chinese territory for no legitimate reason and it is long past time for them to come home. I’m glad to partner with Senator Markey on a bill that would hold the Chinese government accountable for this unjust policy.”
One day after issuing their statement, the Massachusetts senators collaborated with Senators Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) (LAW ’90) on a related initiative. The senators introduced a bill that would revoke or deny visas to Chinese officials involved in implementing and enforcing exit bans on U.S. citizens. China has long used exit bans to keep Chinese dissidents and human rights activists from leaving the country, according to USA Today. In recent years, however, the Chinese government has started limiting the international travel of some foreign nationals.
After the Massachusetts senators issued their news release, Georgetown University President John DeGioia (CAS ’79, GRD ’95) advocated for the release of Liu in a Jan. 14 public statement.
“Georgetown joins Senators Markey and Warren in urgently asking for the release of Victor and his sister Cynthia, both U.S. citizens,” DeGioia wrote. “Advocacy for Victor has ensured that his case has been brought forward at the highest levels of government and, as we continue to support Victor as a member of our Georgetown community, we sincerely hope a diplomatic solution can be reached for his return home as soon as possible.”
Georgetown administrators have pushed for Victor Liu’s release for over a year, according to a university spokesperson. DeGioia met with Liu in China in Fall 2018, and Georgetown officials have held meetings with Chinese authorities about facilitating Liu’s return home. However, in recent months, the university has faced mounting pressure from students concerned with Liu’s captivity to voice more public support for his expedited return. In November, the Asian American Student Association hosted an event at which students and faculty called on the university to consider new strategies to accelerate Victor Liu’s release.
Evan Medeiros, a School of Foriegn Service professor specializing in U.S.-China relations who has been involved in Georgetown’s efforts to push for the Liu siblings’ release, attended the event. Georgetown officials have met with members of the Trump administration and the National Security Agency to facilitate an end to Victor Liu’s detainment, according to Medeiros.
“Georgetown is fully committed to ensuring Victor returns to the United States as soon as possible,” Medeiros wrote in an email to The Hoya. “To that end, the University has been working closely with U.S. Government officials since June of 2018 to secure Victor’s release, and we will continue to advocate for the Administration to do the utmost to secure the earliest possible return of Victor to his home in the United States.”
This article has been updated to include the university’s efforts to facilitate the Lius’ release.