US regrets for beating of Chinese woman
US Homeland Security Secretary Tom Ridge has expressed "great regret" over the beating of Chinese businesswoman Zhao Yan by officers of the US Customs and Border Protection last week, officials of the Chinese embassy said on Thursday.
Ridge said that Robert Rhodes, the first officer of the US Customs and Border Protection to attack Zhao Yan, had been charged with felony assault, Chinese embassy officials said.
Ridge said he had asked the US Customs and Border Protection officers to take measures to prevent such incidents from happening again, Chinese embassy officials said.
Lan Lijun urged the US side to make thorough investigations into the case, punish persons responsible and keep the Chinese side informed of the investigation and handling process.
Zhao Yan, a businesswoman from China's northern coastal city of Tianjin, was on her first US business trip when she was attacked at the Niagara Falls near the US-Canadian border on July 21 by Rhodes and other officers of the US Customs and Border Protection.
Zhao Yan said on Wednesday that six days after she was brutally attacked, she was still suffering from a bad headache, swollen eyes and mental trauma. She also had a broken tooth and severe back pains which forced her to ride a wheelchair.
Because of the sharp physical pain and mental trauma caused by the beating, she could "barely sleep two to three hours a day."
Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, during a telephone conversation with US Secretary of State Colin Powell on Monday, urged the US government to carry out a thorough investigation intothe attack and bring those responsible for the incident to justice.
"We regret the apparent mistreatment of a Chinese national by a US customs officer in Niagara Falls," the US State Department said in a statement Thursday.
"We have communicated to the Chinese Government that the US customs officer was arrested by Customs and Border Patrol Police and his case referred for criminal prosecution," it said.
Powell also wrote to his Chinese counterpart Li Zhaoxing after their phone conversation that the United States government would thoroughly investigate the beating case of a Chinese citizen Zhao Yan according to US laws.
In a letter that Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing received in Beijing on Thursday, Powell said he felt deeply disturbed when he learned of the mistreatment that Chinese citizen Zhao Yan underwent at the hands of US Customs and Border Protection officers.
Powell said that the accused officer has been suspended from his post and detained on charges of felony assault, pledging that the US government would continue its thorough investigation.
Zhao Yan, a Chinese business woman from Tianjin, was on her first US business trip when she was attacked at Niagara Falls near the US-Canadian border on July 21 by US Customs and Border Protection police. The attack came in disregard of all normal procedures.
Zhao said she had a broken tooth and severe back pain, which forced her to ride in a wheelchair. Because of sharp physical pain and mental trauma caused by the beating, she could "barely sleep two to three hours a day."
Zhao's nightmare has drawn much attention from the Chinese government and media.Her eyes were nearly swollen shut, the front of her forehead was also swollen and she had bruises around the eyes and a contusion high on her forehead.
"Secretary Powell has been very clear that America is an open society; we welcome visitors from around the world, and our goal is to ensure that they have a safe and enjoyable stay in the United States," the State Department statement said.
It said the United States would ensure that such incidents did not recur.
The department had pledged earlier this week that the US authorities would get to the bottom of the case.
Zhao, from Tianjin city, had complained that she told the officers who stopped her that she had legal documents, including a passport and business visa, but they beat her anyway, according to the Chinese media.
"I have been to many countries in the past for business purposes, and the United States is the most barbarous," Zhao was quoted as saying.