The travel advisory offered no new warnings about COVID-19 in mainland China, but referred travelers to earlier advisories advising Americans to avoid the regions.
The United States on Tuesday issued a sweeping new warning against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of arbitrary detention “and arbitrary application of local laws.”
The opinion is likely to heighten tensions between the parties which have increased since Beijing imposed a new strict national security law on Hong Kong in June, which has already been the subject of a series of American punitive actions.
The statement warned US citizens that China is imposing arbitrary detentions and exit bans to force cooperation in investigations, pressure family members to return to China from overseas, influence litigation. civilians and gain bargaining power over foreign governments.
US citizens traveling or residing in China or Hong Kong may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime. US citizens may be subject to prolonged interrogation and prolonged detention without due process of law, ”the notice said.
In Hong Kong, China unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power, according to the notice, adding that the new legislation also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside Hong Kong, potentially placing U.S. citizens who have publicly criticized China at increased risk of arrest, detention, deportation or prosecution.
When in Hong Kong, American citizens are strongly warned to be aware of their surroundings and to avoid demonstrations, ”the advisory said.
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Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin told reporters in a daily briefing Tuesday that the United States should fully respect the facts and should not engage in unwarranted political manipulation “during the issuance of such notices.
China has always protected the security and legal rights of foreigners in China in accordance with the law. China is one of the safest countries in the world, “Wang said. Of course, foreigners in China also have an obligation to obey Chinese laws.”
Last month, the Trump administration suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements with Hong Kong over extradition and tax exemptions, citing Beijing’s violation of its commitment to Hong Kong to retain broad autonomy for 50 years after the transition from the former British colony to Chinese rule in 1997.
Other Western countries have also suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong following the passage of the National Security Act.
The United States also acted to end the special trade and trade privileges Hong Kong had enjoyed and imposed sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials, including pro-Beijing Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, involved in the application of the new security law.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington have reached their lowest point in decades amid simmering disputes over trade, technology, Taiwan, Tibet, the South China Sea, the coronavirus pandemic and, most recently, Hong Kong . The impact of the tensions was felt in the tit-for-tat closures of diplomatic missions as well as visa restrictions for students and journalists.
The latest travel advisory offered no new warnings about COVID-19 in mainland China and Hong Kong, but referred travelers to earlier advisories advising Americans to avoid areas and return home if possible.
President Donald Trump has blamed Beijing entirely for the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, deflecting criticism from his own handling of the pandemic that threatens his re-election.
The virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan, in central China, late last year, leading to the global pandemic. Critics have accused Beijing of an initial cover-up attempt, although Trump himself admitted playing down the severity of the virus as early as February.
China appears to have contained the virus within its borders, reporting no new cases of domestic infection in a month, while Hong Kong has also drastically reduced the number of new cases.
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