The U.S. government has warned Americans against traveling to China due to the arbitrary enforcement of laws by the Chinese communist regime that can result in people getting jailed without even being aware of their alleged crimes.
“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,” a June 30 travel advisory issued by the U.S. State Department said. “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.”
According to the advisory, China is classified a “Level 3,” meaning that prospective visitors should “reconsider travel” to the Asian nation. It is the second-highest of the four levels of travel advisories issued by the State Department.
The advisory stated that foreign government personnel, academics, journalists, and business people, among others, have been “interrogated and detained” by Chinese officials for allegedly violating national security laws.
“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.”
The advisory comes after Chinese authorities sentenced a 78-year-old U.S. citizen, John Shing-Wan Leung, to life in prison on spying charges in May. The city of Suzhou’s intermediate court announced the sentencing in a brief statement through social media but did not provide any details.
Such trials are usually conducted behind closed doors and typically do not yield any information to the public. China also recently passed laws threatening strict action against foreign individuals and entities deemed a risk to the Chinese regime.
In a July 1 tweet, Daren Nair, host of the podcast “Pod Hostage Diplomacy,” criticized the American government for going soft on China. “Why is China at a Level 3 when Iran, Venezuela, and Russia are all at Level 4? Are our economic ties with China the reason why China is getting treated differently?”
The travel advisory warned that officials in China could detain U.S. citizens for conducting research, accessing publicly available material, and sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese regime.
In addition, Beijing has used restrictions on travel and departure, also known as exit bans, to force foreign individuals to take part in government investigations, pressure their family members abroad to return to China, resolve civil disputes in favor of Chinese citizens, and gain leverage over other nations, the advisory stated.
“U.S. citizens might only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC, and there may be no available legal process to contest an exit ban in a court of law. Relatives, including minor children, of those under investigation in the PRC may become subject to an exit ban.”
In a July 3 tweet, Mike Abramowitz, president of pro-democracy organization Freedom House, called the travel advisory a “chilling” one for Americans thinking of visiting China.
China’s Espionage Laws
On July 1, China’s Foreign Relations Law came into effect. The law authorizes the Chinese regime to take necessary countermeasures against acts deemed a threat to the security and interests of the country.
China’s newly revised anti-espionage law also came into effect on July 1. The revision expanded the definition of espionage, making it vaguer and broader. Human rights activists believe the updated laws will give Beijing the power to ramp up the oppression of its citizens while also allowing it to target foreign individuals and companies.
In an interview with The Epoch Times, Zheng Xuguang, a U.S.-based Chinese commentator and economist, slammed the Chinese regime for using a vague definition of “security” and “national interests” in the revised law.
“In the past, obtaining so-called classified national secrets was considered espionage. Now, anything that hinders national security is deemed espionage,” he said.
“According to this law, conducting industry research is considered a threat to economic security, and investigating the backgrounds of officials can be seen as a matter of national security.”