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Trump: UCLA Players Ought To Thank China’s Xi Jinping For Their Freedom

President Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements. REUTERS/Damir SagoljPresident Trump and China's President Xi Jinping shake hands after making joint statements. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj

President Donald Trump has been pushing three UCLA players hard to remember to thank those who spared them from spending years in a Chinese prison.

Trump tweeted Thursday morning that LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill, three UCLA basketball players charged with shoplifting in Hangzhou, should thank Chinese President Xi Jinping for their release.

The young men were arrested during Trump’s five-nation tour of Asia that took him to Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam, and the Philippines. The president brought their future up in a discussion with Xi, asking the Chinese leader to let the boys return home.

The president’s tweets follow a tweet Wednesday questioning whether the UCLA players would thank him for securing his release. The three risked spending up to ten years in Chinese prison for stealing merchandise from a Louis Vuitton store near their hotel.

After returning to the U.S., one of the players spoke at a press conference. “I would like to thank President Trump and the United States government for the help that they’ve provided,” he said. Now, the president wants them to thank China for letting them off the hook.

The players will not face charges, but they have been indefinitely suspended from their team.

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Ryan Pickrell
the authorRyan Pickrell
Holds a PhD in International Relations, fluent in Mandarin Chinese, reports on China and the Asia Pacific.

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