The Chinese embassy in Washington issued a travel warning to its citizens living or on holiday in the U.S. of increasing security threats following President Trump's airstrike that killed Iran's top military commander major general Qassem Soleimani in Iraq on Friday.
"The Chinese embassy suggests and reminds Chinese citizens in the U.S. to closely watch the security situation, stay alert and take safety precautions, be cautious before going to public places," the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in the U.S. said in a Sunday statement, the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post reported.
Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Khamenei, warned in a statement that the "criminals" responsible for Soleimani's assassination will face "severe revenge," and that his work fighting on behalf of the Iranian people "won't be stopped by his martyrdom," according to a statement published on Twitter.
China is worried that Iran-backed Hezbollah sleeper cells embedded in major US metropolitan areas could be activated in the coming days, weeks, and or months could attack soft targets that are not heavily defended, such as restaurants, sporting events, and shopping malls.
Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Chad Wolf published a special bulletin Saturday via the National Terrorism Advisory System, indicating that there is no credible terrorist threat but warns of lone-wolf terrorists and cyber-attacks.
The new @DHSgov NTAS Bulletin on the threat landscape was issued to inform & reassure the American public, state/local governments & private partners that DHS is actively monitoring & preparing for any specific, credible threat, should one arise. pic.twitter.com/iNnHU1TI9A— Acting Secretary Chad Wolf (@DHS_Wolf) January 4, 2020
China's travel warning to the U.S. was read more than 130 million times on Weibo, as it appears this could result in lower tourism to the U.S.
"Our fellow compatriots in the U.S., please be careful and stay safe!" one Weibo user said.
Since the airstrike, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Beijing was "highly concerned" about the threat of conflict in the Middle East.
"China advocates that all parties should earnestly abide by the purposes and principles of the U.N. Charter and the basic norms of international relations," Shuang said Friday.
"We urge all parties concerned, especially the United States, to keep calm and exercise restraint and avoid a further escalation of tensions," he added.
The threat of a terrorist attack could lead to lower tourism figures in the months ahead as other embassies will likely warn their citizens about the travel risks associated with the US.