The US State Department has issued a travel advisory urging Americans to “exercise increased caution” when traveling to the People’s Republic of China.
The State’s elevated travel advisory is out of concern that China may arbitrarily enforce local laws and detain US citizens without cause.
The advisory also indicates that US-Chinese citizens or Americans of Chinese heritage are especially vulnerable to “additional scrutiny and harassment.”
“Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit US citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping US citizens in China for years,” the State Department said in its advisory.
According to the advisory, China tends to use these exit bans in a coercive manner to “compel US citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.”
In addition, the State Department warns that Americans only find out about these exit bans when they try to leave China and without knowledge of how long the ban will last.
The advisory also explains that Americans affected by exit bans have been “harassed and threatened” by authorities.
“US citizens may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the State Department said. “US citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.”
“Security personnel may detain and/or deport US citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government,” the agency added.
The new China travel advisory is a level two advisory which urges increased caution. A level one advisory suggests travelers “exercise normal precautions” while a level three advisory urges Americans to “reconsider travel.” A level four advises Americans to avoid traveling to a particular country.
Other countries or regions with a level two advisory include Algeria, Burma, Antarctica, Belgium, France, Germany, Denmark, and the United Kingdom.