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U.S. residents prevented from leaving China after three years are returning house

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Chinese and US flags flutter in front of an American company building in Beijing, China, Jan. 21, 2021. REUTERS / Tingshu Wang / File Photo

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From Michael Martina

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Two American siblings who had been prevented from leaving China since 2018 returned to the United States over the weekend, according to a US official.

Cynthia and Victor Liu returned to America after more than three years of being banned from leaving China under a "travel ban" despite no criminal charges. Her father, former bank clerk and refugee Liu Changming, is charged with fraud in China.

The two Americans' exit followed an agreement that allowed Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou to return to China from Canada after US prosecutors closed fraudulent proceedings against them.

Within hours of news of the deal, two Canadians arrested shortly after Meng's arrest were released from Chinese custody and sent back to Canada.

Beijing denied that the arrests were related.

The White House said Monday the Canadians' release was not a prisoner swap but their cases came up in a September 9 call between US President Joe Biden and his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping.

The Justice Department said its decision on Meng's case was made independently.

"We welcome the return of Cynthia and Victor Liu to the United States on Sunday," a State Department spokesman said, adding that US consular officers in Shanghai helped facilitate the siblings' departure.

"We will continue to work on behalf of all American citizens in the PRC who are subject to arbitrary detention and forced exit bans."

The White House declined to comment on the Americans who had left China.

Cynthia and Victor Liu's mother, Sandra Han, remains in custody in China on criminal charges.

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