The US State Department renewed its warning for US citizens traveling in China to exercise increased caution due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” amid heightened diplomatic tensions over the arrest in Canada of a Chinese technology company executive, Reuters reports.
The updated travel advisory maintains the warning at “Level 2” but also warns about extra security checks and increased police presence in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions.
The advisory follows the detentions by Chinese authorities in December of Canadians Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank, and businessman Michael Spavor. China says both men were suspected of endangering state security.
Tensions with China increased after Canadian police arrested Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd.’s chief financial officer, Meng Wanzhou, on Dec. 1 in Vancouver at the request of the United States.
US prosecutors have accused her of misleading banks about transactions linked to Iran, putting the banks at risk of violating US sanctions.
Earlier on Thursday, China’s top prosecutor said the two Canadians had “without a doubt” violated the law.
The two men, Michael Kovrig, a former diplomat and an adviser with the International Crisis Group think-tank, and businessman Michael Spavor, were suspected of endangering state security.
“Without a doubt, these two Canadian citizens in China violated our country’s laws and regulations, and are currently undergoing investigation according to procedure,” Zhang Jun, China’s prosecutor general, said.
Zhang said the investigation process had been handled “strictly” according to law when asked by Reuters at a briefing when the two men might be charged. He did not elaborate.
In its previous travel advisory for China issued on Jan. 22 last year, the State Department urged Americans to “exercise increased caution” in the country because of “the arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual US-Chinese nationals”.
The latest advisory repeats that warning but adds: “Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.”
The advisory also warns about China’s use of “exit bans” that would prohibit US citizens from leaving the country, sometimes keeping them in China for years.
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