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Exclusive: Fugitive Chinese official declines to confirm she would stop seeking US asylum

CCA Houston Processing Center Photo: Zheng Zhi/

Yang Xiuzhu, one of the most wanted fugitives who fled China 13 years ago and is now in custody in the United States, didn’t comment on a recent news that she would give up her bid to seek political asylum in the US and go back to China during an interview with the Yang was also on the Interpol’s red list.

Yang is being held in custody in the Houston Processing Center of Corrections Corporation of America (CCA), America’s biggest private prison. Although wires and fences of prison were imported from south China’s Zhejiang province, the prison guards here do not know Yang, who they are guarding, is also from this province, and well known throughout China for her political background.

As recording and photography are both prohibited in the reception room, the reporter could only talk to her face to face, with a thick window in between.

Yang, 70, in a blue T shirt, shortly trimmed gray hair, and appearing much thinner than she looked on the Internet, cast an alert glance from the other side of the window.

The conversation started with the prison diet. There is no Chinese food, and she said she has been eating bread and potato salad for over two years that she has been accustomed to.

In response to the recent news that she would stop seeking US political asylum and return to China, Yang hesitated and said she still hadn’t figured out how to talk to the media.

Asked what was the biggest challenge, Yang muttered “it was of course the lawyer. It’s just not cool.”

Emotional ups and downs and quick changes in facial expressions of Yang could be felt in this part of the conversation.

The visiting time was short, and the question whether Yang would give up on US asylum remained unanswered.

Yang, the former vice director of the construction bureau of Zhejiang province, who was suspected of corruption worth 250 million yuan, has fled to many countries including Singapore, the US, the Netherlands, and Canada in the past 13 years.

Last July, an immigration court in New York heard Yang’s political asylum bid, but the ruling was suspended until today. Some media reports claimed that Yang was considering giving up on the asylum due to health condition and suspension of the ruling.

The CCA Houston Processing Center which is located on the southern side of the Bush Intercontinental Airport is a detention center with a contractual relationship with the USCIS and is mainly used for repatriating illegal immigrants arrested in southern part of the US in the past few decades.

CCA has 65 prisons with nearly 100,000 beds in 19 states throughout the US.


(This article is edited and translated by Chunmei.)

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