One American female citizen being illegally held in a Chinese prison was not visited by Obama during his recent visit to China.
Sandy Phan-Gillis is a Houston businesswoman and naturalized U.S. citizen who visited China in March, 2015 as part of a five-member American trade delegation. The group included Houston’s former mayor pro tem, Ed Gonzalez, and leaders to promote business opportunities in Houston.
She’s still there, 18 months later, but in prison.
At one point in the trip, after passing through security at a border checkpoint in Macau, Phan-Gillis disappeared.
The Chinese government detained her, suspecting that she was a spy, stealing state secrets. The Chinese Foreign Ministry claims Phan-Gillis is “threatening China’s national security.”
Since March 19, 2015, Phan-Gillis has been detained, without due process, reportedly undergoing constant interrogation. Earlier this year, Newsweek reported, “There are no charges, much less a public arraignment and trial, in sight.”
However, Houston’s Ch. 2 News reports that a trial date of September 19 has finally been set for this 56-year-old Houstonian resident.
Phan-Gillis is Vietnamese-American of Chinese descent who has lived in Houston for roughly 30 years. Her husband, Jeff Gillis, told the media earlier this year that his wife suffers from high blood pressure and had been hospitalized twice already in the first year of her incarceration. “I really want to get her out,” he said. ” I still don’t understand what is going on. She has done so much for U.S. China relations, it astounds me to think that China would act this way to a really good friend.”
Simon Tang, a Gillis family attorney, told the Houston Chronicle that Chinese law dictates that a suspect can be detained for up to six months during an investigation, after which the government has one month to press charges and/or present its case in court. It can also ask for an extension to prolong the investigation.
The State Department claims it has been closely monitoring the case. “We’ve raised her case with Chinese government officials on multiple occasions at a very senior level,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner told the media last Fall. The White House raised the issue with the Chinese foreign ministry, but did not receive what it “believe[d] to be an adequate response.”
Phan-Gillis regularly traveled to China as a business consultant and as the president of the Houston Shenzhen Sister City Organization. The Houston Chronicle writes that Shenzhen, is an “economic powerhouse with its own stock exchange that’s known as China’s Silicon Valley.” And, as its president, “Phan-Gillis presided over one of the largest economic impact sister city groups in the country.”
China is second only to Mexico in trade with Houston. In 2014, alone, import/exports between Houston and China totaled $16.6 billion, up from $13.6 billion in 2013.
Jeff Gillis says: “My wife is not a spy; she is not a thief. She is a hardworking businesswoman who spends huge amounts of time on nonprofit activities that benefit Houston-China relations.”
Ch. 2 News reports that “Phan-Gillis’ lawyers claim the Chinese government has taken steps to block evidence to her passport, which they said would prove she did not visit China in 1996.”
Likewise, when her attorneys flew from Houston to China to meet with the judge, he canceled the appointment after their arrival.
Phan-Gillis has been held hostage by the Chinese since March 19, 2015. Americans concerned for her release can contact the State Department here.
Jean Anderson, a resident of Sandy’s Houston neighborhood, wrote in a local message board, “I have known her for about 15 years and even went to China with her; there is no way she is a spy.”
Anderson added last week, “We can only hope that President Obama and the State Department will negotiate for her release, he goes to China this week.”
Sandy’s plight is a perfect example of the empty “hope and change” delusional lie Obama promised. Hope and Change? Nope. One can hope, but it’s false hope.
Instead, Obama left China to meet with youth in Laos to tell them that Americans are “lazy.”