Two US citizens returned home at the weekend after three years of being barred from leaving China, coinciding with a deal to resolve Chinese tech executive Meng Wanzhou ’s US fraud case. The American siblings, Victor and Cynthia Liu, landed back in the United States on Sunday after flying from Shanghai on Saturday, ending a three-year limbo imposed by an “exit ban” from the Chinese authorities. Neither Liu sibling had been accused of wrongdoing, but they were prevented from leaving China in June 2018 following a visit to the country – a move their lawyers said was designed to pressure their estranged father to cooperate with police in a fraud case. The US state department confirmed their return home. “We oppose the use of coercive exit bans against people who are not themselves charged with crimes,” the department said. “We will continue to advocate on behalf of all American citizens in [China] subject to arbitrary detention and coercive exit bans.” In a 2019 video aired by US media, Cynthia Liu had said her father had “abandoned my family many years ago”. “We are not in touch with him, nor do we have any way of contacting him,” she said. After their 2018 trip to China, Victor Liu had been about to start his second year at Georgetown University and Cynthia was to begin working at consulting firm McKinsey & Company in New York. Their return home came only hours after the US justice department dropped its extradition request to Canada for Meng, the daughter of Huawei’s founder, allowing her to leave Vancouver and fly to China on Saturday. Her arrest on bank fraud charges had been seen in China as the US seeking to suppress Chinese companies such as telecoms giant Huawei. Meng’s arrest at Vancouver’s airport in December 2018 triggered a three-year saga that sent relations between Beijing and Ottawa into a nosedive, and strained an already intensifying strategic rivalry between China and the US. Hours after a “deferred prosecution agreement” released Meng from house arrest and shelved the charges against her, Chinese courts freed Canadians Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor , who had been detained in China days after Meng’s initial 2018 arrest. Their return home to Canada, which Chinese state media said was for “medical reasons” , was widely seen as confirmation of “hostage diplomacy”, although diplomats from China, the US and Canada denied that they had negotiated for the releases of Meng followed by the two Canadians on the same day. White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters on Monday that the Meng deal had been a “legal matter” overseen by independent prosecutors at the Department of Justice, and denied that there had been a “prisoner swap” with China. US and Canadian officials have repeatedly raised concerns about arbitrary detention in relation to the two Michaels and US citizens detained in China in recent months. Chinese officials also made the release of Meng one of the key conditions they issued to the US in July for repairing the countries’ relations, when US deputy secretary of state Wendy Sherman visited Tianjin. The case of the Liu siblings had spurred the introduction in April of US legislation to hold Chinese officials accountable for exit bans preventing American citizens from leaving China, including denying or revoking visas for those involved. The current US travel advice on China warns that Beijing uses arbitrary detention and exit bans for various reasons, including to compel people to cooperate with investigations and to “gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments”. It also states that US citizens, in most cases, are made aware of exit bans only when attempting to leave China, and that there is “no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it in a court of law”.