LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — President Trump personally asked Chinese President Xi Jinping to help resolve the case of three UCLA men’s basketball players arrested for shoplifting.

According to a report in The Washington Post published Monday morning, Trump raised the arrests during his two-day state visit to Beijing.

LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill were arrested for shoplifting while in Hangzhou for a tournament last week.

While it looks like the detained players are in a good position right now, the fact that it now involves the two most powerful men on the planet on a week they meet puts the matter in an even more tenuous situation, a legal expert told CBS2 News.

“They become pawns in bigger game,” said Caesare Romano, Professor of International Law at Loyola Law School.

While he believes President Xi of China will strike a conciliatory tone with the U.S. over the arrests, he said nothing is certain in the high-stakes dealings of international diplomacy.

“[It] depends on how Trump and Xi are going to play their hand,” warned Romano. “There is a risk that things might take a wrong turn for them if, for whatever reason, Xi comes under domestic pressure to make an example out of these three kids, and to send a strong message to the United States — ‘ You cannot boss us around.'”

An unnamed official in the Post story said the charges against the players have been reduced, and that the case is moving forward towards a resolution.


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