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White House Presses China on US Woman Arrested for Alleged Spying

Chinese President Xi Jinping stands during a meeting with U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing Aug. 28, 2015.

The White House says it has asked China "direct questions" about a Texas businesswoman arrested six months ago for alleged spying, but has received no answers.

Spokesman Josh Earnest said Tuesday the case of Sandy Phan-Gillis could come up when President Barack Obama meets with Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week in Washington, D.C. Xi is now in the U.S. Pacific state of Washington.

Earnest said China's official silence on the Phan-Gillis matter has been "disconcerting."

"Just earlier today, the White House was in touch with the Chinese Foreign Ministry to continue to ask direct questions about her current status, and to insist that all of the rules are followed that govern her access to her attorneys."

Serious accusations

Chinese authorizes arrested Phan-Gillis on March 19 in Guangzhou, where she was part of a U.S. trade delegation. She was accused of spying and stealing state secrets.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said Phan-Gillis is suspected of "endangering national security" and that "relevant Chinese authorities" are pursuing the case under the law.

Her husband, Jeff Gillis, told VOA he does not know of anything illegal his wife did during the trip.

"I can't think of any reason why the Chinese government would have done this," he said.

Gillis said his wife has been moved to the city of Nanning. He said he wants to keep the case a low-profile matter in hopes it can be resolved.

But he said he became discouraged as months passed, and he got what he believed was a cool reaction from the U.S. State Department.

VOA's Greg Flakus contributed to this report from Houston.

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