US to Travelers: Maybe Rethink That Trip to China

Advisory urges Americans, cites risk of wrongful detention
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jul 3, 2023 12:58 PM CDT
US Urges Americans to Reconsider Travel to China
Pro-China supporters hold Chinese flags to mark the 26th anniversary of Hong Kong's handover from Britain to China in Hong Kong, Saturday, July 1, 2023.   (AP Photo/Louise Delmotte)

The US has recommended Americans reconsider traveling to China because of arbitrary law enforcement and exit bans and the risk of wrongful detentions. No specific cases were cited, but the advisory came after a 78-year-old US citizen was sentenced to life in prison on spying charges in May. It also followed the passage last week of a sweeping Foreign Relations Law that threatens countermeasures against those seen as harming China's interests, the AP reports.

  • China's government "arbitrarily enforces local laws, including issuing exit bans on US citizens and citizens of other countries, without fair and transparent process under the law," the US advisory said. "US citizens traveling or residing in the PRC may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime," it warned.
  • The advisory also said that Chinese authorities "appear to have broad discretion to deem a wide range of documents, data, statistics, or materials as state secrets and to detain and prosecute foreign nationals for alleged espionage."
  • The advisory listed a wide range of potential offenses, from taking part in demonstrations to sending electronic messages critical of Chinese policies or even simply conducting research into areas deemed sensitive.
  • Exit bans could be used to compel individuals to participate in Chinese government investigations, pressure family members to return from abroad, resolve civil disputes in favor of Chinese citizens, and "gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments," the advisory said.

Similar advisories were issued for the semi-autonomous Chinese regions of Hong Kong and Macao. The US has issued similar advisories to its citizens in the past, but those in recent years had mainly warned of the dangers of being caught in lockdowns during China's "zero-COVID" policy. The warnings come as US-China relations are at their lowest in years over trade, technology, Taiwan, and human rights, although the sides are taking some steps to improve the situation. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken made a long-delayed visit to Beijing last week and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is making a much-anticipated trip to Beijing this week. (More China stories.)

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