Publication Date: Wednesday, February 26, 2003

Wedding plans are on hold for Yeong Ching Foo and her fiance, Charles Li, a Menlo Park-based importer/exporter and practitioner of Falun Gong who was arrested in January at the airport in Guangzhou, China, [...] according to the U.S Bureau of Consular Affairs.

Ms. Foo, who said her marriage had been planned to take place in about a month, said Mr. Li was in China to visit his family and celebrate Chinese New Year. She said Mr. Li, a U.S. citizen, is being allowed only one 30-minute visit each month with a representative from the U.S. consulate.

"What can you determine in 30 minutes?" Ms. Foo asked at a sidewalk press conference and demonstration in front of Cafe Borrone in Menlo Park on the morning of February 20.

The press conference kicked off a statewide tour to spread the word about Mr. Li's detainment and plead for his rescue, said a spokesman.

"It's just not right," Ms. Foo said through her tears, and asked her listeners to write to President Bush, Secretary of State Colin Powell and members of Congress. "You have to help Charles get out as soon as possible," she said.

Representative Anna Eshoo, D-Atherton, has written to the American Embassy in Beijing asking the ambassador to ensure Mr. Li's safety and arrange for his release.

Mr. Li conducted his import/export business in Chinese goods, such as medicine and shoes, from his home in the Willows neighborhood. He earned a medical degree in China, a master's degree in physiology from the University of Illinois and has done research at Harvard University, Ms. Foo said.

If the charges against him concern his practice of Falun Gong, Mr. Li could be facing 15 years in prison, friends said. At the press conference, Falun Gong practitioner Yuzhi Wang described her nine-month ordeal in a Chinese labor camp she called "notorious for torturing." Among the hardships she said she endured was a force feeding through her nose, causing her to bleed from her eyes and nose and almost leading to blindness, she said.

After gaining her release, Ms. Wang said she was trailed to the United Arab Emirates, where her mother lives, and was later arrested as a result of pressure from the Chinese government. She said she gained her freedom thanks to the intervention of the Canadian government, which arranged a special visa for her.