Three UCLA men’s basketball players arrested for shoplifting in China are on their way back to the United States, the university said Tuesday, after President Donald Trump personally intervened in the case with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping.
“UCLA Men’s Basketball student-athletes LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley are returning from China to Los Angeles at this time,” Alex Timiraos, associate director of communications for UCLA men’s basketball, said in a statement.
In his own statement, Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said the matter “has been resolved to the satisfaction of the Chinese authorities.”
“We are all very pleased that these young men have been allowed to return home to their families and university,” Scott said in the statement.
“We are grateful for the role that our Chinese hosts played, and for the courtesy and professionalism of the local authorities. We also want to acknowledge UCLA’s significant efforts on behalf of their student-athletes. Finally, we want to thank the President, the White House and the U.S. State Department for their efforts towards resolution.”
Earlier, Trump acknowledged that he had asked the Chinese leader to help resolve the case of the three players who were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament last week.
“The basketball players, by the way – I know a lot of people are asking – I will tell you, when I heard about it two days ago, I had a great conversation with President Xi,” Trump said after boarding Air Force One in Manila to return to the United States himself at the conclusion of a 12-day trip through Asia. “What they did was unfortunate. You know, you’re talking about very long prison sentences. [The Chinese] do not play games.
“[Xi] was terrific, and they’re working on it right now. And hopefully everything is going to work out. And I know they’re very grateful because they were told exactly what happened.”
When asked specifically if Xi was helping to resolve the matter, Trump said, “Yes, he is. And he’s been terrific. President Xi has been terrific on that subject.
“But that was not a good subject. That was not something that should have happened.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · Simon Denyer, David Nakamura, Tim Bontemps