The United States has issued a new travel advisory urging Americans to “reconsider travel” to mainland China. The advisory cites concerns over “arbitrary” law enforcement practices and the potential risk of wrongful detention.
In a recent update, the travel advisory for China has been elevated from “Level 2: Exercise increased caution” to “Level 3: Reconsider Travel.” This change is a response to the increased risk associated with the “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”
The advisory comes in the wake of a 78-year-old U.S. citizen receiving a life sentence on spying charges in May. Additionally, China has recently enacted a comprehensive counterespionage law that grants authorities the power to conduct raids on foreign businesses operating in the country.
The U.S. advisory reads, “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. 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.”
The advisory also expressed concern over the broad discretion of Chinese authorities to classify various documents, data, statistics, or materials as state secrets. This raises the risk of detention and prosecution of foreign nationals on charges of alleged espionage.
On July 1st, the newly revised CCP Anti- Espionage Law took effect. The U.S. issued this 👇👇👇China Travel Advisory on June 30th. I hope the U.S. has a plan for Americans who are already there. Canadian Govt issued its warning on June 29th. All people from the free world should…
— Ava (@S7gril) July 4, 2023
The law defines potential acts of espionage broadly, including actions such as sending critical electronic messages regarding Chinese policies or engaging in research deemed sensitive.
Travelers were cautioned about drug usage and advised against participating in protests or any activities that authorities may interpret as acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with a foreign country.
China often reacts unfavorably to what it perceives as attempts by the United States to undermine its Communist Party-led system. In response, China has issued its own travel advisories to the U.S., cautioning about crime, anti-Asian discrimination, and the expensive nature of emergency medical services.
Chinese officials have not provided an immediate response to the travel advisory issued on Monday.
The issuance of the travel advisory coincides with the increasing tensions between China and the U.S. In an attempt to salvage their deteriorating relationship, Secretary of State Antony Blinken visited Beijing last month.
Following the talks, Blinken acknowledged that although there were some areas of progress, significant disagreements remained, particularly in the realm of military affairs. He also raised the cases of, Kai Li, Mark Swidan, and David Lin, three Americans who were allegedly detained unjustly in China.