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Chinese American Entrepreneur Allowed to Return to US

Chinese-born U.S. scientist Hu Zhicheng stands at the waterfront promenade along the Huangpu River in Shanghai, China, January 2013.
A U.S. entrepreneur held in China for five years following a business dispute has been allowed to return home, just days before a high level U.S.-China summit.

Hu Zhicheng's wife says she is grateful for the unexpected return of her husband, who she said arrived late Monday at the Los Angeles International Airport from China.

A naturalized U.S. citizen who moved to his native China in 2004, Hu is a respected engineer and inventor in the field of catalytic converters, which are used to limit pollution in automobiles.

In 2008, Hu was jailed for 17 months after being accused by a competitor of commercial theft. Although the charges were later dropped and he was released, border agents repeatedly refused to let him leave the country because they said he was still wanted by police.

The reason for his release is unclear. But it comes ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping in California.

China occasionally releases prisoners and makes small human rights concessions in the leadup to such dialogues in an attempt to garner favor with Washington.