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[Congressional Record: May 8, 2001 (Senate)]
From the Congressional Record Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
GAO ZHAN'S BIRTHDAY
Mr. ALLEN. Mr. President, I rise to note what should be a happy
occasion but is instead a somber, worrisome, troubling and
Today is the 39th birthday of Gao Zhan, a woman of Chinese descent
who on her 38th birthday lived in Northern Virginia with her husband
Dong Hua Xue and her 5-year-old son Andrew.
Far from spending this 39th birthday in the day in the warm embrace
of her loving family, maybe opening a present that her son Andrew made
for her, or blowing out candles, she is somewhere else--enduring her
87th day of detention by the officials of the People's Republic of
China, some 7,000 miles away from home in an unknown location and in
unknown condition, with no contact whatsoever with her husband and her
Gao Zhan, who has permanent resident status in the United States, is
a scholar at American University studying women's and family issues,
especially as they relate to China and Taiwan. She was held for 43 days
before she was even charged with a crime. At that time, the Chinese
officials alleged that she was a spy for a foreign government but
presented no evidence, aside from asserting that she had supposedly
Also very troubling was the fact that when she and her husband and
son were attempting to leave Beijing after spending the Chinese New
Year with her family, her husband and 5-year-old son were also detained
and held separately from her for 26 days before being released. In
fact, the 5-year-old son was held separately.
Indeed, the coerced separation of young Andrew, who is a U.S. citizen
by birth, violated consular agreements with China. But according to
Andrew's father, this detention has also traumatized this youngster
psychologically. This once outgoing, talkative little boy has turned
inward. He literally clings to his father's leg almost constantly, and
he continues to suffer nightmares, emotional withdrawal, and other
adverse effects. Sometimes he will be eating supper and he will ask his
father, ``Where is my mother?''
It is often said that we fear what we do not know. For 87 days, Gao
Zhan's family and friends have known precious little about her
situation, and they are afraid. They don't know her location. They do
not know her physical condition. They do not know the basis for the
charges against her. No one has been permitted to see her--not our
consular officials, who have lodged more than a dozen official protests
with the Chinese, not the lawyers in Beijing or New York, who are
authorized to practice law in China, whom her husband hired. This
denial is even a violation of Chinese law. They have not even allowed
international humanitarian organizations, such as the Red Cross, to see
On April 5, I introduced legislation, S. 702, which would grant Gao
Zhan her desire to become a U.S. citizen. Her son, as I mentioned
previously, is also a U.S. citizen. Her husband recently completed his
oath in the naturalization process--he took the oath 2 months ago--and
is a U.S. citizen.
Gao Zhan has met all of the requirements necessary to become a
citizen, except for one--raising her hand and taking the oath of
allegiance to the United States. She has established residency for at
least 5 years prior to her application. In fact, she has lived in the
United States since 1989. She passed the INS test on U.S. history,
government, and language. And she passed the FBI background
Gao Zhan has clearly demonstrated her intent and desire to become a
U.S. citizen. S. 702 would help effectuate her desire in her absence.
At the same time, I believe taking this unprecedented action might help
afford her the full range of protections that are accorded to U.S.
citizens all around the world.
The Immigration and Naturalization Service has notified the Senate
that Gao Zhan meets the requirements for naturalization, including good
moral character. I therefore urge my colleagues, both on the Judiciary
Committee and in the full Senate, to move this bill to make Gao Zhan a
citizen as quickly as possible. While this legislation may not
guarantee that China will begin respecting human rights of its own
citizens and visitors, it might help reunite a wife and mother with her
husband and child.
Gao Zhan's detention is part of a larger and disturbing pattern of
arrests, of which Senator Jeffords is well aware, in China and the
pattern of arrests of United States-based academics and residents that
predates the incident involving detention of our 24 Navy crew members.
Over the past several months, we have become aware of the detention of
two American citizens of Chinese descent and three Chinese-born holders
of American green cards,
including Gao Zhan and another scholar who is a resident of Hong Kong.
I have been made aware that one of these permanent U.S. residents,
Liu Yaping, a businessman whom the Chinese have accused of fraud and
tax evasion, is reportedly suffering from an aneurysm and his life
could be in serious jeopardy. In addition, Gao Zhan also suffers from a
chronic heart condition, and her family is understandably concerned
about her health.
A number of my colleagues and I have already petitioned the Chinese
Embassy for Gao Zhan's release on humanitarian grounds, to no avail. At
the very least, Gao Zhan and others being held in China deserve humane
treatment, contact with our consular officials, their families, and
This sort of treatment of U.S. citizens and residents over the course
of the past several months is clearly not the way to mend the frayed
and unsettling relations between China and the United States.
I call on our administration to continue doing everything in its
power to seek Gao Zhan's return. I ask my colleagues to support this
legislation granting her citizenship, and I call on the Chinese
Government to release Gao Zhan and return her to her family.
Knowing that the Chinese authorities do not allow any
communications--even an e-mail, not even allowing a birthday card--
wouldn't it be nice to just get a birthday card signed by her 5-year-
old son and her husband, to know that they are OK. Knowing that is not
going to be allowed, on behalf of the freedom-loving people of this
country and all around the world, I still express our happy birthday
wishes and hope our thoughts and prayers and actions will result in Gao
Zhan spending her 40th birthday back home with her friends and family,
and especially her 5-year-old son who needs his mother.
I thank the Chair and yield the floor.
Mr. JEFFORDS. Mr. President, I thank the Senator from Virginia for
raising this issue. The person he is referring to is the mother of a 5-
year-old. I also have taken as a cause Ngawang Choephel, who is a young
man from Tibet who attended college and then went back to Tibet to work
on trying to make a history of the language and the culture there and
was arrested and, without any trial at all, imprisoned and still is in
I finally had to go to the Chinese just to get the mother to see her
son, which she was guaranteed to do under Chinese law. We finally did
succeed in getting the two together, but he remains incarcerated in
These are just a few, I am sure, of many such incidents. We should
always keep these in mind when we decide what kind of relationship we
are going to have with China.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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