US Issues China Travel Advisory: Warns Of "Arbitrary Enforcement Of Local Laws"

Confirming what until now was merely hearsay, when three weeks ago Reuters reported that the State Department was considering a travel advisory for China following the arrest of the Huawei CFO, moments ago the State Department officially issued a travel advisory to US citizens traveling to China, warning to "exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals."

According to the advisory, "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." It also notes that "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. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened."

In summary, to those who decide to travel to China, the State Department urges:

  • Enter China on your U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa and keep it with you.
  • If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately.
  • If you plan to enter North Korea, read the North Korea Travel Advisory.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter. Follow the U.S. Embassy on Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for China.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

This latest escalation in diplomatic tensions between Washington and Beijing will not be lost on China, who can respond in one of two ways: by issuing a similar advisory to its own citizens traveling to the US, or by confirming US fears and becoming more aggressive in arresting US citizens on Chinese soil, both of which would make a trade war resolution by the March 1 deadline that much more unlikely.

Full advisory below:

China Travel Advisory

Travel AdvisoryJanuary 3, 2019China - Level 2: Exercise Increased Caution

 

Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.

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. 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
  • to 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. 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. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.

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.

Read the Safety and Security section on the country information page.

If you decide to travel to China: