A U.S. businesswoman held in China since March last year has been charged with spying, China's Foreign Ministry said Tuesday, the latest development in a case that has added to U.S.-China tensions.
Sandy Phan-Gillis, from Houston, Texas, who is of Chinese ancestry and is a naturalized U.S. citizen, was arrested in March 2015 and had been held without charges since then.
"Based on our understanding, Phan-Gillis, because of her suspected crimes of espionage, has been charged according to law by the relevant Chinese department," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing.
"China is a country ruled by law. The relevant Chinese department will handle the case strictly according to law," she said, without elaborating.
It was unclear what violations the charge covers.
News of the charges against Phan-Gillis comes just ahead of a visit to China by U.S. President Barack Obama, who will arrive on Saturday for a G20 summit in the city of Hangzhou. Obama is scheduled to hold bilateral meetings with Chinese President Xi Jinping on Saturday.
Obama's visit comes at a time of heightened U.S. tensions with China, particularly over Beijing's extensive territorial claims in the South China Sea, but also over issues such as cyber spying.