Chinese-American Released From China - | Nashville News, Weather & Sports

Chinese-American Released From China

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LOS ANGELES (AP) - A Chinese-American businessman who was held in China for nearly five years after he became involved in a dispute with a competitor has been allowed to return to his Southern California home, his wife said Tuesday.

Hong Li said her husband, Hu Zhicheng, arrived at Los Angeles International Airport from China on Monday night.

"We're grateful, we're very, very grateful for everybody's help and we're really happy to have him back home," Li said of herself and her children.

She told The Associated Press in a brief phone interview Tuesday night that her husband was asleep and still jet lagged and did not want to talk about his ordeal or his return home.

Hu was released just ahead of a summit between President Barack Obama and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, but Li said she didn't know if that played any part in her husband's return.

She said she first learned he was returning when she received a call Monday from a relative in China and was told he was on a plane heading home.

"I don't want to say too much at this point," she said. "I don't really know too much."

Hu, an expert in the development of catalytic converters used to control pollution from automobiles, moved to China in 2004 to work in that field.

He formed his own company and prospered at first. But he eventually became involved in a dispute with a competitor who accused Hu of stealing information and providing it to a related company his wife was running.

Hu was arrested in 2008 and jailed for 17 months while police investigated the case. He was eventually cleared of wrongdoing and released, but authorities refused to let him leave the country after his business rival sued him.

Li said Tuesday she didn't know if that case has been resolved.

At the time Hu was taken into custody, Li and the couple's two children were in the United States.

She has been afraid to visit him in China in the years since, worried that she wouldn't be allowed to leave and that her college-age daughter and high-school-age son would be left alone in the U.S.

The couple were both born in China and met and married there, but they became U.S. citizens years ago. Their children were born in the United States.

(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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