U.S. issues travel warning for China and Hong Kong

by Dr. Eowyn

In June, Beijing cracked down on Hong Kong’s democracy movement and imposed a new draconian national security law on the island, a former British colony that London handed over to Beijing in 1997.

Last month, the Trump administration suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements with Hong Kong covering extradition and tax exemptions, citing Beijing’s violation of its pledge for Hong Kong to retain broad autonomy for 50 years after 1997.

Yesterday, the State Department issued a sweeping new advisory warning U.S. citizens against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

The U.S. State Department travel advisory reads:

The PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law. The PRC government uses arbitrary detention and exit bans:

  • to compel individuals to participate in PRC government investigations,
  • to pressure family members to return to the PRC from abroad,
  • to influence PRC authorities to resolve civil disputes in favor of PRC citizens, and
  • to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.

In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC, and there is no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it in a court of law.

U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC or Hong Kong, 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 without due process of law.

Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC government.

The PRC government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-PRC citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the PRC government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.

~Eowyn