State Department Warns Americans About Traveling to China

Ancient Chinese architecture

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.

Priceline and US Department of Defense Launch Military Travel Booking Site

Military bags

Online travel agency Priceline and the United States Department of Defense have partnered up to create a travel site for U.S. military personnel.

Dubbed “American Forces Travel,” this new site is open to current and retired military personnel to find hotel, flight, car rental, cruise deals and negotiated prices on vacation homes, apartments and packages with an up to 60 percent savings.

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The main difference between American Forces Travel and the regular Priceline site is that military users will be able to book deals, flights, rental cars and hotels with the names of the travel suppliers fully disclosed. Regular Priceline users are not able to see things like the name of the hotel with the “opaque” pricing set up on the travel site.

About 6.5 million active and retired members in every branch of the U.S. armed forces will have access to 1 million hotel deals in more than 71,000 destinations worldwide on American Forces Travel. Department of Defense civilians in the U.S. and abroad can also sign up.

Medal of Honor recipients, American Red Cross and USO paid personnel serving outside of the USA can also be eligible. Family members of these groups will also have access to the site.

To use the site, all you have to do is verify your eligibility with the Department of Defense through a secure process.

The commission created through American Forces Travel will be used to support quality of life programs within different branches of services like Morale, Welfare and Recreation programs on military bases. The DoD and Priceline would not disclose that percentage.

Members of the military “have dedicated themselves to service and deserve our thanks and our respect. To honor that service, we have negotiated deep discounts for personal travel, across flights, hotels, car rentals, cruises and more,” says Brett Keller, CEO of Priceline.