POLITICS

US recommends Americans reconsider traveling to China due to arbitrary law enforcement, exit bans

Jul 3, 2023, 12:28 AM | Updated: 3:22 am

BEIJING (AP) — The U.S. recommended Americans reconsider traveling to China because of arbitrary law enforcement and exit bans and the risk of wrongful detentions.

No specific cases were cited, but the advisory came after a 78-year-old U.S. citizen was sentenced to life in prison on spying charges in May.

It also followed the passage last week of a sweeping Foreign Relations Law that threatens countermeasures against those seen as harming China’s interests.

China also recently passed a broadly written counterespionage law that has sent a chill through the foreign business community, with offices being raided, as well as a law to sanction foreign critics.

“The People’s Republic of China (PRC) government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including issuing exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries, without fair and transparent process under the law,” the U.S. advisory said.

“U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime,” it warned.

The advisory also said that Chinese authorities “appear to have broad discretion to deem a wide range of documents, data, statistics, or materials as state secrets and to detain and prosecute foreign nationals for alleged espionage.”

It listed a wide range of potential offenses from taking part in demonstrations to sending electronic messages critical of Chinese policies or even simply conducting research into areas deemed sensitive.

Exit bans could be used to compel individuals to participate in Chinese government investigations, pressure family members to return from abroad, resolve civil disputes in favor of Chinese citizens and “gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments,” the advisory said.

Similar advisories were issued for the semi-autonomous Chinese regions of Hong Kong and Macao. They were dated Friday and emailed to journalists on Monday.

The U.S. had issued similar advisories to its citizens in the past, but those in recent years had mainly warned of the dangers of being caught in strict and lengthy lockdowns while China closed its borders for three years under its draconian “zero-COVID” policy.

China generally responds angrily to what it considers U.S. efforts to impugn its authoritarian Communist Party-led system. It has issued its own travel advisories concerning the U.S., warning of the dangers of crime, anti-Asian discrimination and the high cost of emergency medical assistance.

China had no immediate response to the travel advisory on Monday.

Details of the accusations against the accused spy John Shing-Wan Leung are not available, given China’s authoritarian political system and the ruling Communist Party’s absolute control over legal matters. Leung, who also holds permanent residency in Hong Kong, was detained in the southeastern city of Suzhou on April 15, 2021 — a time when China had closed its borders and tightly restricted movement of people domestically to control the spread of COVID-19.

The warnings come as U.S.-China relations are Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen is making a much-anticipated trip to Beijing this week. China also recently appointed a new ambassador to Washington, who presented his credentials in a meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House.

Other incidents, however, have also pointed to the testiness in the relationship. China formally protested last month after Biden called Chinese leader Xi Jinping a “dictator,” days after Blinken’s visit.

Biden brushed off the protest, saying his words would have no negative impact on U.S.-China relations and that he still expects to meet with Xi sometime soon. Biden has also drawn rebukes from Beijing by explicitly saying the U.S. would defend self-governing Taiwan if China, which claims the island as its own territory, were to attack it.

Biden said his blunt statements regarding China are “just not something I’m going to change very much.”

The administration is also under pressure from both parties to take a tough line on China, making it one of the few issues on which most Democrats and Republicans agree.

Along with several detained Americans, Two Chinese-Australians, Cheng Lei, who formerly worked for China’s state broadcaster, and writer Yang Jun, have been held since 2020 and 2019 respectively without word on their sentencing.

Perhaps the most notorious case of arbitrary detention involved two Canadians, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, who were detained in China in 2018, shortly after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, Huawei Technologies’ chief financial officer and the daughter of the tech powerhouse’s founder, on a U.S. extradition request.

They were charged with national security crimes that were never explained and released three years later after the U.S. settled fraud charges against Meng. Many countries labeled China’s action “hostage politics.”

Politics

Associated Press

Wildfire prompts evacuation orders for rural community in northern California

PALERMO, Calif. (AP) — Authorities in rural northern California have ordered evacuations due to a fast-moving fire threatening the community of Palermo, which is near where the state’s deadliest wildfire struck six years ago. The fire covered about 1 square mile (2.6 square kilometers) in the initial hours Monday after the flames were first reported, […]

1 hour ago

Associated Press

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange stops in Bangkok on his way to a US court and later freedom

BANGKOK (AP) — A plane carrying Julian Assange landed Tuesday in Bangkok for refueling, as the WikiLeaks founder was on his way to enter a plea deal with the U.S. government that will free him and resolve the legal case that spanned years and continents over the publication of a trove of classified documents. A […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

A look at Julian Assange and how the long-jailed WikiLeaks founder is now on the verge of freedom

WASHINGTON (AP) — News that the U.S. Justice Department has reached a plea deal that will lead to freedom for WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange brings a stunning culmination to a long-running saga of international intrigue that spanned multiple continents. Its central character is a quixotic internet publisher with a profound disdain for government secrets. A […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Missouri, Kansas judges temporarily halt much of President Biden’s student debt forgiveness plan

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) — Federal judges in Kansas and Missouri on Monday together blocked much of a Biden administration student loan repayment plan that provides a faster path to cancellation and lower monthly payments for millions of borrowers. The judges’ rulings prevent the U.S. Department of Education from helping many of the intended borrowers ease […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

US and allies clash with Tehran and Moscow over Iranian nuclear program at UN Security Council

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United States and its key European allies clashed with Iran and Russia over Tehran’s expanding nuclear program, with the U.S. vowing “to use all means necessary to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran” in a U.N. Security Council meeting on Monday. The U.S., France, Britain and Germany accused Iran of escalating its […]

8 hours ago

Image: WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange Julian Assange greets supporters outside the Ecuadorian emb...

Associated Press

Wikileaks founder Julian Assange will plead guilty in deal with US, return to Australia

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange will plead guilty to a felony charge in a deal that will free him from prison and resolve a legal saga.

13 hours ago

US recommends Americans reconsider traveling to China due to arbitrary law enforcement, exit bans