The son of a US citizen wrongfully imprisoned in China is calling for President Joe Biden to take action on the issue ahead of his expected meeting with Chinese leader Xi Jinping next week.
Kai Li, 60, is one of three Americans imprisoned in China who have been labeled “wrongful detainees” by the US State Department, along with pastor David Lin and Texas businessman Mark Swidan.
On Tuesday, Li’s son Harrison Li told DailyMail.com that his family felt abandoned by the Biden administration after Secretary of State Antony Blinken vowed to make “substantial progress” on the Chinese hostages before a Biden-Xi top.
“These issues are simply forgotten and no further progress has been made,” Harrison said during an emotional virtual press conference. “My father has spent 2,616 days (in captivity) and we are constantly getting into trouble from the government.”
“All of these cases have existed since President Biden was vice president under the Obama administration. So now we are into at least a third administration, and still nothing has been done,” he said.
Kai Li, above, is one of three Americans imprisoned in China who have been labeled “wrongful detainees” by the US State Department
Spokespeople for the White House, the US State Department and the Chinese Embassy in Washington DC did not immediately respond to requests for comment from DailyMail.com on Tuesday.
Biden and Xi’s teams reportedly have an agreement in principle to meet on the sidelines of a summit in San Francisco next week, although final confirmation of the meeting is still pending.
Harrison said that with the summit approaching, he fears the fate of the three American prisoners in China will be left out, even as the ordeal of Americans and other hostages held by Hamas in Gaza continues to draw attention. level from the media and the White House. House.
He called the recent attention to Hamas hostages entirely justified, but said he hopes the issue will at the same time raise awareness about the Americans being held in China and elsewhere.
“I think people as a whole are becoming more aware that there are Americans who are being wrongfully detained or held hostage abroad by hostile actors,” he said. “It just raises awareness of this issue, and that doesn’t take anything away.”
Kai Li has been held in squalid conditions since his arrest in China in September 2016 on espionage charges that his family, lawyers and U.S. officials say are false and politically motivated.
On Tuesday, Li’s son Harrison Li (above) told DailyMail.com that his family felt let down by the Biden administration and called for action to secure his father’s release.
Pastor David Lin (left) and Texas businessman Mark Swidan (right) are the other two Americans the US says are being wrongfully detained in China
Biden meets Xi in 2022. They are expected to meet again next week on the sidelines of a summit in San Francisco
Li was born in Shanghai in 1962 and came to the US to study at the age of 27, where he later naturalized as a US citizen. He opened several gas stations on Long Island and later founded a company that imported and distributed solar technology to American aerospace companies.
He was visiting Shanghai to mark the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death when he was arrested upon arrival on state security charges.
After months in secret detention, Li was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2018 after an hour-long secret trial.
Although his family still does not know exactly what the charges against him are, his lawyer says the “state secrets” he is accused of are freely available on the Chinese internet.
Li is being held in horrific conditions in China’s Qingpu prison, where Harrison says his only contact with family for more than three years was through heavily censored letters.
Now Li can make two seven-minute phone calls each month, but the calls are recorded and monitored, limiting his ability to speak freely, Harrison said.
The other two Americans wrongfully detained in China, Lin and Swidan, have been held there even longer than Li.
Swidan, a Texas businessman, has been incarcerated since 2012 and sentenced to execution on drug trafficking charges.
Lin, a 68-year-old Chinese-American pastor, has been imprisoned in China since 2006, when he was arrested for “illegal religious propaganda” during a visit to Beijing.
He was later sentenced to life in prison on charges of ‘contract fraud’, although a reduced sentence means he could ostensibly be released in 2030.
The US State Department’s Office of the Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs (SPEHA) has labeled all three men – Li, Lin and Swidan – as “wrongful detainees.”
In June, after a visit to Beijing, Blinken said the US and China continued to discuss the release of the three men.
“I don’t want to get into the details, but we’re talking about that very actively,” Blinken said in an interview with CBS News.
Kai Li was visiting Shanghai to mark the one-year anniversary of his mother’s death when he was arrested upon arrival on state security charges
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken shakes hands with Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China, on June 19
Blinken said the US was committed to continuing to work to resolve all three cases.
“I not only discussed the individual cases of the detained Americans, but also spoke extensively,” he said in the interview.
“In any case, it (their release) would be a very important and positive development and we are working intensively on it,” Blinken said.
But on Tuesday, Harrison lamented the Biden administration’s apparent lack of action ahead of the president’s planned meeting with Xi.
He said Blinken had a direct Zoom call with his family after the trip to Beijing and promised “substantial progress” by November, but that little visible progress had been made since then.
‘What invariably seems to happen is that people at the top just don’t see it, or don’t get around to it, or it’s put on the back burner, or, for example, there’s a spy balloon and interactions between the two countries are shut down. paused. for months,” he said.
Harrison said waiting for years for news of his father’s release had taken its toll on the family.
“We’ve been burned, not once too many times, but far too many times. “So at this point I think it’s dangerous to have any optimism until we get the call that my father is on a plane with American troops, from Chinese airspace,” he said.
“Before that moment comes, I’m so burned — I just feel so burned that I just can’t show any optimism.”