After serving more than ten years of a 16-year term, U.S. entrepreneur Jude Shao was released on Wednesday from Shanghai’s Qingpu Prison. Shao was arrested in 1998 and convicted of tax evasion and fraud. Following his imprisonment, Shao’s former classmates from the Stanford Graduate School of Business led a campaign for his freedom (their homepage on the right), and many members of Congress and the Bush administration repeatedly called for his release. Shao’s release came a day after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice concluded her visit to Beijing, and the LA Times reports several China specialists who noted,
with the Olympics next month, Beijing was eager to buff up its image, which recently had been tarnished by deadly riots in Tibet and other incidents in which Chinese lawyers, journalists and human rights activists had been silenced.
While this may be true, China Rises‘ Tim Johnson believes Shao’s release is more of a one-two punch strategy that the Chinese government is employing: “caress with one hand, squeeze with the other.” On the same day Shao was freed, the New York Times reported that several Chinese human rights lawyers were detained in advance of a meeting they had scheduled with two U.S. representatives lobbying for the release of more than 700 political prisoners.