Relations May Strain as US Woman Charged With Espionage in China

Relations May Strain as US Woman Charged With Espionage in China


Sandy Phan-Gillis, a US businesswoman of Chinese descent arrested in March 2015 in China, has been charged with spying, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday, in an announcement that threatens to further deteriorate US-China relations.

In March 2015, Sandy Phan-Gillis, arriving in China as a member of a trade delegation, was detained while crossing from China into Macau, an autonomous region, and was detained without charges.

    Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying, at a briefing, stated that “the relevant Chinese department will handle the case strictly according to law,” without further detailing the violations said to have been committed by Phan-Gillis.

A US State Department official asked for details on the case and demanded “full and unfettered” access to Phan-Gillis. The official stated, “We urge Chinese authorities to explain the reasons for Ms. Phan-Gillis’ ongoing detention.” A UN recommendation to release Phan-Gillis, as her detention violates international human rights norms, was criticized by the Chinese government.

Phan-Gillis’s husband claims that his wife is innocent, and is wrongfully accused of committing a crime dating back some 20 years, which, he claims, she never committed, given that she was not in China at that time. She is also charged with attempts to recruit Chinese citizens in the US to act as spies.

Her husband is seeking US President Barack Obama’s assistance in resolving the case, as the president is slated to visit China on Saturday for a G20 Summit in Hangzhou. Tensions between the two countries regarding China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea have resulted in the US placing barriers on doing business with Beijing.

Earlier in July, Su Bin, a Chinese citizen, was sentenced to 46 months in prison in the US after being found guilty of conspiring to pass US defense information to Chinese military officials.

Phan-Gillis’s husband believes that the charges are a result not of criminal activity, but of politics. If convicted, she could be sentenced to ten years in a Chinese labor camp, her husband said.

Leave a Reply