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American declared guilty of spying after two years in detention – China politics and current affairs news from April 25, 2017

summary of today’s top news in Chinese politics and current affairs. Part of the daily SupChina news roundup "The robot Chinese journalists are coming."
5 months ago
Lucas Niewenhuis

A years-long saga concerning Phan Phan-Gillis, a U.S. businesswoman also known as Sandy, who was accused of espionage and detained over two years ago, seems to be concluding: The New York Times reports (paywall) that on April 25, a judge in southern China finally declared her guilty and ordered her to be deported. However, as a written judgment has yet to be passed down — it is expected in the coming days — it is unclear if she will have to carry out a prison sentence before leaving the country. Her husband, Jeff Gillis, has advocated on her behalf from the U.S. throughout her detention. In August 2016, the Times reported (paywall) that he had appealed directly to President Barack Obama to raise the issue at last fall’s G20 summit in Hangzhou, China. Though U.S. diplomats had repeatedly pressed the Chinese to drop charges on Phan-Gillis, no information appears to be publicly available on what, if anything, came of these efforts or whether President Obama himself got involved.

The Chinese government has recently doubled down on efforts to root out spies in the country, offering cash rewards of up to $73,000 to residents in Beijing who inform on foreign espionage activity. State media also promoted the scheme with a propaganda video, which you can view translated and subtitled by SupChina here.

By Lucas Niewenhuis
Lucas Niewenhuis is an associate editor at SupChina who helps curate daily news and produce the company's newsletter, app, and website content. Previously, Lucas researched China-Africa relations at the Social Science Research Council and interned at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. He has studied Chinese language and culture in Shanghai and Beijing, and is a graduate of the University of Michigan.
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