US: China travel warning, lest they be hit with an exit ban.

The US State Department has issued an update to its travel warning about China, urging Americans to “exercise increased caution” when traveling to the country “due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.”

The advisory notes that China has increasingly started to coercively use “exit bans” in order to keep US citizens in the country, sometimes for years, for the purposes of compelling them to participate in Chinese government investigations or of luring other individuals back to China from abroad.

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In a recent high-profile example, China is reported to be “holding hostage” the wife and two children of a renegade Chinese official named Liu Changming who is wanted for major financial crimes. The three family members, all American citizens, arrived in China in June under US passports to visit the ailing father of Liu’s wife. However, they have since been prevented from leaving the country under exit bans.

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“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 US national security adviser John Bolton.

Of course, the update also comes after China detained a pair of Canadian nationals — former diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor— on suspicion of “engaging in activities harming China’s national security.” Many believe that the arrests were made in retaliation to Canada’s arrest of Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou at the request of authorities in US where she is accused of violating sanctions against Iran.

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The China travel advisory is a Level 2 out of 4. Recently, the US State Department has issued a slew of Level 2 warnings about countries including the United Kingdom, France, Russia, Spain, Italy, Belgium, and the Netherlands, citing the risk of terrorism.

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