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US issues travel warning for China, says ‘exit bans’ used to compel participation in probes

US issues travel warning for China, says ‘exit bans’ used to compel participation in probes
The State Department has issued a warning to US citizens traveling to China to exercise increase caution accusing Beijing of "arbitrary enforcement of local laws."

US authorities issued the level 2 travel advisory on Thursday, suggesting that those who plan to visit China proceed with increased caution. The warning claims that China has “asserted broad authority” in detaining US citizens and not allowing them to leave the country.

The alert also suggests that sending electronic messages which criticize the Chinese government could be enough to provoke detention or deportation. They claim that Chinese authorities might deny detainees access to US consular services, or subject them to “prolonged interrogations and extended detention.

The US authorities recommend people carry their passports with them at all times and register their trip with the government’s "smart travel" program.

This comes on the same day a Beijing prosecutor asserted that that two Canadian citizens detained mid-December had “without a doubt” broken Chinese law, despite that official charges have yet to be filed. Although both sides deny that the case is linked to the detention of Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada 9 days earlier, many speculate the detention was conducted in retaliation. The international back-and-forth comes against a broader background of continued trade conflict between China and the US, who filed the original charges against Meng.

The US State Department introduced a color-coded, four-level travel warning system in 2018. Level 1 advises travelers to “exercise normal precautions,” and applies to countries like Austria, Belgium and Estonia. Level 2 recommends travelers “exercise increased caution,” as is the case with China. Level three asks Americans to “reconsider travel” to countries like Haiti and Pakistan, while Level 4 simply warns “do not travel,” and applies to 11 countries including Iraq, Afghanistan, and North Korea.

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