U.S. issues China travel advisory amid increased tensions

U.S. State Department Issues Travel Advisory for China Due to ‘Exit Bans’		AFP  Getty 3 Jan 2019

The advisory, which warns of the potential for arbitrary detentions, "cannot stand up to scrutiny", said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, who noted that 2.3 million Americans visited China between January and November 2018.

Former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor were arrested last month as relations between the two countries worsened.

Beijing past year appeared to hit back at Washington's travel advice by issuing its own guidance to Chinese coming to the USA, warning of the risk of mass shootings and the high cost of healthcare as well as robberies, searches and seizures by customs agents, telecommunications fraud and natural disasters. US citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny, it adds.

The first line of the advisory cites the "arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S".

Thursday's advisory is based on concerns that the Chinese government may arbitrarily enforce local law and prevent United States citizens from leaving the country.

The pair face accusations of harming national security and, on Thursday, China's top prosecutor said they had "without a doubt" violated the law.

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"In most cases, USA citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue", it said.

According to the warning, U.S. citizens subject to the exit bans rarely know of the restriction until the moment they attempt to leave, and such citizens have been harassed, threatened and detained without access to consular services.

Their detentions followed the arrest of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou, who was held in Vancouver at the request of USA prosecutors on 1 December.

It also warned of last-minute security checks and curfews in Xinjiang and Tibet, two minority-dominated regions where Beijing has tightened its grip. "US citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to 'state security.' Security personnel may detain and/or deport USA citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government", the State Department said.

U.S. prosecutors have accused Meng, the Huawei CFO, of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating sanctions. The notice says the "exit bans" are imposed to compel Americans to facilitate government investigations or resolve business disputes.

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