Americans who want to travel to China should use “increased caution” over actions taken by the Chinese government that can keep Americans in China “for years,” the State Department warned Thursday.
“Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals,” said the advisory, which was posted on the State Department website.
The call for increased caution is a Level 2 warning on the department’s four-level scale, between “Exercise Normal Precautions” and “Reconsider Travel.” Level 4 urges no travel to a designated country.
The State Department said that China at times tries to arbitrarily detain those within its borders. “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,” the warning said.
“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.”
The warning said Americans only learn they are banned from leaving China “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.”
Americans held by China “may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the warning said.
Those prevented from leaving could face “prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to ‘state security.'”
Because China does not recognize dual citizenship, China treats those with Chinese and American citizenship as Chinese citizens only.
“Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government,” the warning said.
China was at a Level 2 warning for all of 2018.
These Americans need to be allowed to return home. https://t.co/m9aOvYvPER
— John Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) November 27, 2018
China’s use of exit bans has been highlighted by the case of Victor and Cynthia Liu, who were prevented from leaving China while the Chinese government seeks to get its hands on their father, Liu Changming, The New York Times reported.
The Lius have been prevented from leaving China since June, according to CNN.
The U.S. has been in dialogue with China to secure their release.
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