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Mao’s Last Dancer

by Cherri Carbonara

“Mao’s Last Dancer” tells a story of international ballet star Li Cunxin and Li’s immigration attorney, FosterQuan LLP founding partner Charles Foster. Directed by Oscar-nominated director Bruce Beresford, the film has already received rave reviews from both foreign and U.S. movie critics. (View clips from the movie: here, here, and here) Along with beginning a lifelong friendship between Li and Foster, the events portrayed in the film were the catalyst for more than 30 years of pro bono immigration legal work by Foster and firm lawyers for Houston Ballet and many other local arts organizations.

In 1981 famed Houston Ballet star Li Cunxin, a Chinese national, was forcibly detained inside the Chinese Consulate after informing Chinese authorities that he intended to remain in the United States. Charles Foster refused to abandon his client at the consulate for concerns that the Chinese would spirit Li out of the country against his will. What followed was a tense and sometimes surreal 21-hour negotiation, during which Foster went to federal court to obtain a restraining order, meeting two federal judges in the early morning hours at the rear entrance of the U.S. District Courthouse in Houston. All the while, he quietly phoned senior U. S. authorities, alerting them to the legal consequences of forcible repatriation to further prevent Li’s removal from the United States. Li says that it was his good fortune to have Foster with him that fateful evening at the consulate. “If it wasn’t for Charles’ knowledge of the applicable law, his quick thinking and his dedication to me as his client, I am not sure how it might have turned out,” he said.

About The Author

Cherri Carbonara is principle of Carbonara Group.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the opinion of ILW.COM.