U.S. issues China travel warning about 'arbitrary' law enforcement

Michael Kovrig left and Michael Spavor

Michael Kovrig left and Michael Spavor

The first line of the advisory cites the "arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S". "China always welcomes foreign citizens - including U.S. citizens - to visit China, and protects their security and legal rights, including freedom of entry and exit".

The travel advisory update by the State Department on Thursday follows the detentions of two Canadians in China last month and came amid heightened diplomatic tensions in the wake of the arrest in Canada of a top executive in Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. "Chinese citizens and US citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment".

The new advisory warns of so-called exit bans which prohibit foreign citizens from leaving China.

It updated a previous advisory issued past year to note the bans are used to lure individuals back to China from overseas, aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties and compel US citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations.

"We are being held here as a crude form of human collateral to induce someone with whom I have no contact to return to China for reasons with which I am entirely unfamiliar", Liu's 27-year-old daughter wrote in a letter to U.S. national security adviser John Bolton.

Additional caution was urged for Americans visiting restless areas with an extremely heavy Chinese security presence, such as Tibet and Xinjiang province, home of the oppressed Uighur Muslims.

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Victor and Cynthia Liu, who are the children of a fugitive businessman, and their mother, Sandra Han, have reportedly been detained since June.

What do we know of the recent detentions?

She faces extradition to the United States to face fraud charges, which she denies, that are linked to allegations of avoiding U.S. sanctions on Iran.

China previous year appeared to hit back at the U.S. travel advice by issuing its own guidance to Chinese coming to the United States, warning of the risk of mass shootings and the high cost of health care.

China insists the detention of both men is not linked to Ms Meng's arrest, but many analysts believe it was a tit-for-tat action. Unfortunately, individuals and family members not directly involved with or even aware of the dispute can still be subject to a ban, the agency explained.

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