The US yesterday issued a sweeping new advisory warning against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”
The advisory is likely to heighten tensions between the two, which have spiked since Beijing’s imposition in June of a new National Security Law in Hong Kong that has already been met with a series of US punitive actions.
The statement warned US citizens that China imposes “arbitrary detention and exit bans” to compel cooperation with investigations, pressure family members to return to China from abroad, influence civil disputes and “gain bargaining leverage 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 subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law,” the advisory said.
In Hong Kong, China “unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power,” the advisory said, adding that new legislation covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside the territory, possibly subjecting US citizens who have publicly criticized China to a “heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution.”
When in Hong Kong, US citizens are “strongly cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and avoid demonstrations,” it said.
Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) told reporters at a daily briefing yesterday that the US should “fully respect the facts and should not engage in unwarranted political manipulation” when issuing such advisories.
“China has always protected the safety and legal rights of foreigners in China in accordance with law. China is one of the safest countries in the world,” Wang said.
“Of course, foreigners in China also have an obligation to abide by Chinese laws.”
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