The U.S. State Department has issued an updated travel advisory to warn Americans to rethink their trips to mainland China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws and the risk of wrongful detention.
Counterespionage law: The travel advisory comes after China passed a counterespionage law and a law to sanction foreign critics. The State Department noted that U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime.
“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 U.S. advisory stated.
Prosecuting foreign nationals: According to the advisory, Chinese authorities also “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.”
Americans may be taken into custody if caught conducting research in sensitive areas, are seen participating in demonstrations or found sending messages critical of China’s policies.
Although no cases were cited, a 78-year-old U.S. citizen was found guilty of espionage and sentenced to life in prison in May.
There were similar advisories issued for Hong Kong and Macao.