US issues travel advisory for China and Hong Kong due to ‘arbitrary enforcement of local laws’ News
US issues travel advisory for China and Hong Kong due to ‘arbitrary enforcement of local laws’

The US Department of State released a new travel advisory Friday for US citizens traveling to mainland China, Hong Kong and Macau suggesting travelers “reconsider travel” to the areas due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws…and the risk of wrongful detentions.”

The advisory for mainland China states:

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.

The advisory for Hong Kong specifically mentions the country’s National Security Law, saying:

Since the imposition of the National Security Law on June 30, 2020, the People’s Republic of China (PRC) has demonstrated an intent to use the law to target a broad range of activities such as acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities. The National Security Law also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong SAR [semi-autonomous region] residents or organizations outside of the Hong Kong SAR, which could subject U.S. citizens who have been publicly critical of the PRC and/or the administration of the Hong Kong SAR to a heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution.

The move comes amidst strain between the US and China. Just this past Wednesday, China enacted a law to allow “countermeasures” against those that impose sanctions on the country. On the US side, President Joe Biden has also been slowly ramping up his language surrounding Chinese President Xi Jinping. In 2022 Biden stated, “From China to Russia and beyond, they’re betting that democracy’s days are numbered.” Then in April, he stated that Xi was an “autocrat” and China was “essentially a dictatorship.” And on June 21, Biden called Xi a “dictator.”

The State Department has largely supported Biden’s remarks, with a spokesperson saying, “The President believes that diplomacy…is a responsible way to manage tensions, clear up misperceptions, avoid miscalculations…That does not mean, of course, we will not be blunt and forthright about our differences.”

The move also comes soon after a US citizen, John Shin-wan Leung, was sentenced to life in prison in May for “espionage.” His is one of many high-profile arrests in China that have raised international concerns. In 2021, China arrested Australian journalist Cheng Lei on a similar charge. Another Australian citizen, Dr. Yang Hengju, was detained in January. And two Canadian citizens, Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, were charged with “stealing state secrets” in 2020.