Even as the US and China attempt to dial down tension and reset relations, a new US travel advisory warns US citizens to avoid non-essential travel to China.
US Travel Warning: Avoid Travel To China
Mainland China recently passed a new foreign relations law (text), which went into effect on July 1, 2023. More a policy manifesto than very concrete new ordinances, the law has several provisions which have concerned US leaders:
Chapter I, Article 8:
Where any organizations or individuals violate this Law and other relevant laws by engaging in conduct that harms national interest during diplomatic exchanges, they shall be pursued for legal responsibility in accordance with law.
Chapter IV, Article 33:
The People’s Republic of China has the right to employ corresponding countermeasures or restrictive measures against acts that violate fundamental principles of international law and international relations and harm the sovereignty, security, and developmental interests of the People’s Republic of China.
Chapter IV, Article 38:
Foreigners and foreign organizations in mainland China shall comply with Chinese law and must not endanger China’s national security, harm the societal public interest, or undermine societal public order.
As a result, this week the US has issued the following warning to US citizens (bolding mine):
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 Department of State has determined the risk of wrongful detention of U.S. nationals by the PRC government exists in the PRC.
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. U.S. citizens in the PRC may be subjected to interrogations and detention without fair and transparent treatment under the law.
Foreigners in the PRC, including but not limited to businesspeople, former foreign-government personnel, academics, relatives of PRC citizens involved in legal disputes, and journalists have been interrogated and detained by PRC officials for alleged violations of PRC national security laws. The PRC has also interrogated, detained, and expelled U.S. citizens living and working in the PRC.
PRC 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. There is increased official scrutiny of U.S. and third-country firms, such as professional service and due diligence companies, operating in the PRC. Security personnel could detain U.S. citizens or subject them to prosecution for conducting research or accessing publicly available material inside the PRC.
Security personnel could detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC, Hong Kong SAR, or Macau SAR governments.
That last point is quite scary.
I will never forget that after Ben from One Mile At A Time and I encountered a horrible transpacific flight on China Eastern many years ago and blogged about, we were met by airline officials on our way out, escorted like VIPs, brought to a private first class lounge, and treated like kings.
What if it had gone the other way? China Eastern is, after all, a state-run carrier.
The US has warned citizens to avoid travel to China. That’s a fairly dramatic suggestion, but may be worth heeding considering some of the arrests recently like that of John Shing-Wan Leung, a 78-year-old U.S. citizen was sentenced to life in prison on spying charges in May.
I would love to return to China and am absolutely not anti-China. But I do wonder if it is prudent?