The US State Department issued a travel advisory today warning Americans to exercise increased caution when visiting China due to what it called arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.
The new advisory notes that “Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using exit bans, sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years.”
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In addition, the State Department claims that China uses exit bans coercively to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from abroad and aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
“In most cases, U.S. 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,” states the advisory, adding that U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.
U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime, the advisory notes. And U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.”
The State Department also said that China does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.
The new warning is a level-two advisory, which suggests travelers use increased caution. A level-one advisory indicates travelers should exercise normal precautions and a level-three destination advisory suggests Americans reconsider travel altogether.