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China-US relations

Donald Trump tells UCLA trio to thank Xi Jinping for releasing them from China

US president wishes freed shoplifting suspects a ‘great life’ and warns them of the ‘many pitfalls on the long and winding road’

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 16 November, 2017, 10:11pm
UPDATED : Friday, 17 November, 2017, 10:51am

US President Donald Trump has exhorted three suspended UCLA basketball players to thank Chinese President Xi Jinping for their freedom following a shoplifting incident while they were in China.

“Do you think the three UCLA basketball players will say thank you President Trump. They were headed for 10 years in jail”, he tweeted on Wednesday.

The trio apologised later on Wednesday and publicly thanked Trump, who recently completed a tour of Asia, for his help.

On Thursday morning, the president sent another tweet saying, “You’re welcome. go out and give a big Thank You to President Xi Jinping of China who made your release possible.”

UCLA basketball players apologise for shoplifting in China and thank Donald Trump

In the same tweet, the president said, “HAVE A GREAT LIFE! Be careful, there are many pitfalls on the long and winding road of life!”

Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Jalen Hill and Cody Riley were detained for questioning in Hangzhou, capital of eastern China’s Zhejiang province, following allegations of shoplifting last week before the Bruins beat Georgia Tech in their season-opening game in Shanghai. The rest of the UCLA team returned home on Saturday.

UCLA basketball players’ China shoplifting scandal barely noticed by mainland media

Athletic director Dan Guerrero said the incident occurred when the team was given 90 minutes of free time in the city on November 6. He said the three visited several stores and took items from three of them.

Coach Steve Alford said on Wednesday that the players had been suspended indefinitely and would have to earn their way back onto the team.