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Walker Leads Letter to President Trump Requesting Assistance for Greensboro Pastor Imprisoned in China

March 21, 2019
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Representative Mark Walker (R-N.C.) led a letter to President Trump requesting “strong U.S. intervention” and the use of “all available resources to secure Pastor Cao adequate medical care and his ultimate release.”

The letter is bipartisan and bicameral, signed by more than a dozen lawmakers. U.S. Senators Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), James Lankford (R-Okla.) Joni Ernst (R-Iowa.), and Steve Daines (R-Mont.) signed the letter along with Walker. Representatives David E. Price (D-N.C.), G.K. Butterfield (D-N.C.), Virginia Foxx (R-N.C.), Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), Richard Hudson (R-N.C.), Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) , Alma Adams (D-N.C.), David Rouzer (R-N.C.), George Holding (R-N.C.), and Ted Budd (R-N.C.)  also signed.

Read the full letter here.

Pastor Cao San Qiang (John Cao) has been unjustly imprisoned in China for more than two years. He has been a permanent U.S. resident since he obtained his green card in 1990. He lives in Greensboro, N.C., with his wife and North Carolina native, Jamie Powell. He also has two adult sons.

In 2013, Pastor Cao started providing humanitarian aid to the Wa people in Northern Burma near the Burma-China border. On March 5, 2017, on a return trip from Burma, Pastor Cao was taken into custody by Chinese security agents as he stepped off a ferry that crosses the narrow river dividing China and Burma. He was sentenced to seven years in prison for “organizing illegal border crossing.”

His lawyers say there is a significant lack of evidence against him. Although Cao immediately appealed his conviction and sentence, the Pu’er Intermediate Court keeps delaying a ruling by extending the appeal period way beyond the statutory limit. Currently, there is an appeal hearing deadline set for March 22, 2019, marking nine months of delays by the court.

Cao has been in prison for over 22 months. He is in a 26 x 10 foot prison cell, with a dozen other prisoners who must all share the same 26 foot slab as a bed. He is only allowed outside to see the sun, once per month. His health is declining, and he has been denied proper healthcare.

Since Cao is a Chinese citizen, the U.S. government does not have legal bounds to demand his release. However, Walker and other lawmakers are asking the president to use our nation’s resources to secure Cao proper medical treatment and his eventual release.