Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility
China Sends 78-Year-Old US Citizen to Prison for Life on Spying Charges
gvw_ap_news
By Associated Press
Published 1 year ago on
May 15, 2023

Share

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

China sentenced a 78-year-old United States citizen to life in prison Monday on spying charges, in a case that could exacerbate the deterioration in ties between Beijing and Washington over recent years.

Details of the charges against John Shing-Wan Leung, who also holds permanent residency in Hong Kong, have not been publicly released.

Leung was detained April 15, 2021, by the local bureau of China’s counterintelligence agency in the southeastern city of Suzhou, according to a statement posted by the city’s intermediate court on its social media site. His detention came after China had closed its borders and imposed tight domestic travel restrictions and social controls to fight the spread of COVID-19.

Such investigations and trials are held behind closed doors and little information is generally released other than vague accusations of infiltration, gathering secrets and threatening state security.

Relations between Washington and Beijing are at their lowest in decades amid disputes over trade, technology, human rights and China’s increasingly aggressive approach toward its territorial claims involving self-governing Taiwan and the South China Sea. High-level government visits have been on hold and U.S. companies are delaying major investments amid mixed messaging from Beijing.

The sentencing comes as U.S. President Joe Biden is traveling to Hiroshima, Japan, for the Group of Seven major industrial nations summit, followed by a visit to Papua New Guinea, a Pacific island nation in a region where China has sought to increase its economic, military and diplomatic influence. After Beijing’s gains in the area, the U.S. and its Asia-Pacific partners stepped up their regional presence, offering investments and financial support rivaling those furnished by China.

Now the world’s second-largest economy, China is expanding its footprint in ports, railways and other infrastructure from Europe to Southeast Asia and beyond.

While the Suzhou court offered no indication of a tie to overall China-U.S. relations, spying charges are highly selective and evidence backing them up is not released. That is standard practice among most countries, who wish to secure their personal connections, networks and access to information.

However, China’s authoritarian political system and the ruling Communist Party’s absolute control over legal matters, civil society and freedom of information forestalls demands for further information, as well as court appeals.

The U.S. Embassy in Beijing said it was aware of the case, but could not comment further due to privacy concerns. “The Department of State has no greater priority than the safety and security of U.S. citizens overseas,” the embassy said in the emailed statement.

The government of Hong Kong, a former British colony that reverted to Chinese control in 1997, had no immediate word on Leung’s sentencing.

When it was returned to China, Hong Kong was promised it would retain its financial, social and political liberties, but Beijing has essentially scuttled that commitment since cracking down on pro-democracy protesters and imposing a sweeping national security law in 2020.

China has Raided Offices of Foreign Businesses

Chinese national security agencies have also raided the offices of foreign business consulting firms in Beijing and other cities as part of a crackdown on foreign businesses that provide sensitive economic data.

Foreign companies operating in China have come under increasing pressure as Xi Jinping’s government tightens control over the economy. That stands in stark contrast to efforts to lure back foreign investors after draconian COVID-19 pandemic restrictions were lifted at the beginning of the year.

Long pretrial detentions are not unusual in China and prosecutors have broad powers to hold people charged in national security cases, regardless of their citizenship status.

Two Chinese-Australians, Cheng Lei, who formerly worked for China’s state broadcaster, and writer Yang Jun, have been held since 2020 and 2019 respectively without word on their sentencing.

Government suspicion is particularly focused on Chinese-born foreign citizens and people from Taiwan and Hong Kong, especially if they have political contacts or work in academia or publishing.

Under Xi, the party has launched multiple campaigns against what it calls foreign efforts to sabotage its rule, without showing evidence. Universities have been ordered to censor discussions of human rights, modern Chinese history and ideas that could prompt questions about total Communist Party control.

Xi’s government has also taken a hard line on foreign relations, most recently ordering outa Canadian diplomat in retaliation for Ottawa’s expulsion of a staffer at the Chinese embassy accused of threatening a member of the Canadian parliament and his family members living in Hong Kong.

That meshes with Xi’s confrontational global stance that has seen China partner with Russia in accusing the West of provoking Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine and seeking to overthrow the U.S.-led liberal dominance of global affairs.

RELATED TOPICS:

DON'T MISS

Pro-Palestinian Protesters at Drexel Ignore Call to Disband as Arrests Nationwide Surpass 3,000

DON'T MISS

Stock Market Today: Wall Street Ticks Higher as S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Head for More Records

DON'T MISS

Ramos Homers, Hicks Earns 4th Win as Giants Beat Rockies for First Series Sweep This Year

DON'T MISS

Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s Behind the Weird Flavors Popping Up on Store Shelves

DON'T MISS

Red Lobster Seeks Bankruptcy Protection Days After Closing Dozens of Restaurants

DON'T MISS

Michael Cohen Says He Stole from Trump’s Company as Defense Presses Key Hush Money Trial Witness

DON'T MISS

Ohtani Delivers Walk-off Single in 10th. Dodgers Have Won 20 of Last 26 Games.

DON'T MISS

Fresno Sheriff to Host Q&A on CCWs. Registration Is Open.

DON'T MISS

GOP Makes Noncitizen Voting a Key 2024 Campaign Issue

DON'T MISS

Target to Lower Prices on Thousands of Basic Items as Inflation Sends Customers Scrounging for Deals

UP NEXT

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Wins Appeal Against US Extradition

UP NEXT

Airstrike Kills 27 in Gaza Amid Intensifying Israeli Leadership Divisions

UP NEXT

ICC Prosecutor Seeks Arrest Warrants for Netanyahu, Hamas Leaders

UP NEXT

Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi Dies at 63 in Helicopter Crash

UP NEXT

California Wine Squeezed Dry: What Does It Mean for Valley Grape Growers?

UP NEXT

Alabama Mercedes Employees Overwhelmingly Vote Against Joining Union, Slowing UAW Effort in South

UP NEXT

The Latest | Dozens of Israeli Protesters Attack a Truck in an Apparent Effort to Block Gaza Aid

UP NEXT

The Unofficial Spokesman for the American Muscle Car, Tim Kuniskis, Is Retiring

UP NEXT

Israel Denies Genocide Charges, Asserts Efforts to Protect Gaza Civilians

UP NEXT

Massive Ukrainian Drone Attack on Crimea Causes Power Cutoffs in Sevastopol

Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s Behind the Weird Flavors Popping Up on Store Shelves

2 hours ago

Red Lobster Seeks Bankruptcy Protection Days After Closing Dozens of Restaurants

2 hours ago

Michael Cohen Says He Stole from Trump’s Company as Defense Presses Key Hush Money Trial Witness

2 hours ago

Ohtani Delivers Walk-off Single in 10th. Dodgers Have Won 20 of Last 26 Games.

3 hours ago

Fresno Sheriff to Host Q&A on CCWs. Registration Is Open.

3 hours ago

GOP Makes Noncitizen Voting a Key 2024 Campaign Issue

3 hours ago

Target to Lower Prices on Thousands of Basic Items as Inflation Sends Customers Scrounging for Deals

3 hours ago

WikiLeaks Founder Assange Wins Appeal Against US Extradition

3 hours ago

Jim Otto, ‘Mr. Raider’ and Pro Football Hall of Famer, Dies at 86

3 hours ago

Airstrike Kills 27 in Gaza Amid Intensifying Israeli Leadership Divisions

3 hours ago

Pro-Palestinian Protesters at Drexel Ignore Call to Disband as Arrests Nationwide Surpass 3,000

PHILADELPHIA — Pro-Palestinian protesters ignored a request by Drexel University’s president to disband their encampment on Monday as ...

2 hours ago

2 hours ago

Pro-Palestinian Protesters at Drexel Ignore Call to Disband as Arrests Nationwide Surpass 3,000

2 hours ago

Stock Market Today: Wall Street Ticks Higher as S&P 500 and Nasdaq Composite Head for More Records

2 hours ago

Ramos Homers, Hicks Earns 4th Win as Giants Beat Rockies for First Series Sweep This Year

2 hours ago

Sour Patch Kids Oreos? Peeps Pepsi? What’s Behind the Weird Flavors Popping Up on Store Shelves

2 hours ago

Red Lobster Seeks Bankruptcy Protection Days After Closing Dozens of Restaurants

2 hours ago

Michael Cohen Says He Stole from Trump’s Company as Defense Presses Key Hush Money Trial Witness

3 hours ago

Ohtani Delivers Walk-off Single in 10th. Dodgers Have Won 20 of Last 26 Games.

3 hours ago

Fresno Sheriff to Host Q&A on CCWs. Registration Is Open.

MENU

CONNECT WITH US

Search

Send this to a friend