I Received an Alert from the United States Government

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Travel Advisory – U.S. Embassy Beijing (December 17, 2020)

China – Level 3: Reconsider Travel

Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

Exercise increased caution in the Hong Kong SAR due to COVID-19.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 1 Travel Health Notice for the PRC, and a Level 2 Travel Health Notice for Hong Kong, due to COVID-19.

The PRC has resumed most business operations (including day cares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within the PRC.  Visit the Embassy’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in the PRC, as testing and travel requirements frequently change.

Visit the Consulate General’s COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Hong Kong. 

Please monitor the Hong Kong government’s website  for further updates on COVID-19, as testing, transit, and travel requirements frequently change.

Country Summary:

The PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law. The PRC government uses arbitrary detention and exit bans to:

  • compel individuals to participate in PRC government investigations, 
  • pressure family members to return to the PRC from abroad, 
  • influence PRC authorities to resolve civil disputes in favor of PRC citizens, and
  • gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.

In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC, and there is no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it in a court of law.

U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC, including Hong Kong, may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law.

Foreigners in the PRC, including but not limited to businesspeople, former foreign government personnel, and journalists from Western countries, have been arbitrarily interrogated and detained by PRC officials for alleged violations of PRC national security laws. The PRC has also threatened, interrogated, detained, and expelled U.S. citizens living and working in the PRC.

Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC government. 

The PRC government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-PRC citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the PRC government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.

XINJIANG UYGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION and TIBET AUTONOMOUS REGION

Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uyghur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

Since the imposition of the National Security Law on June 30, 2020, the PRC unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power in Hong Kong. The PRC has demonstrated an intention to use this authority to target a broad range of activities it defines as acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and collusion with foreign entities. The National Security Law also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, which could subject U.S. citizens who have been publicly critical of the PRC to a heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution. PRC security forces, including the new Office for Safeguarding National Security, now operate in Hong Kong and are not subject to oversight by the Hong Kong judiciary.

Demonstrations: Participating in demonstrations or any other activities that authorities interpret as constituting an act of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with a foreign country could result in criminal charges. On June 30, 2020, as part of its color-coded system of warning flags, the Hong Kong police unveiled a new purple flag, which warns protesters that shouting slogans or carrying banners with an intent prohibited by the law could now bring criminal charges.

U.S. citizens are strongly cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and avoid demonstrations.

Propaganda: A PRC propaganda campaign has falsely accused individuals, including U.S. citizens, of fomenting unrest in Hong Kong. In some cases, the campaign has published their personal information, resulting in threats of violence on social media.

Read the country information page for the PRC and for Hong Kong.

If you decide to travel to the PRC, including the Hong Kong SAR:

  • See the U.S. Embassy’s web page regarding COVID-19 for mainland China. See the Consulate General’s COVID-19 page for updated information on COVID-19 in Hong Kong. 
  • For the Hong Kong SAR, monitor local media, local transportations sites and apps like MTR Mobile or CitybusNWFB, and the Hong Kong International Airport website for updates.
  • Avoid areas of demonstrations.
  • Exercise caution if you are in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Avoid taking photographs of protesters or police without permission.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • For the Hong Kong SAR, review your Hong Kong flight status with your airline or at the Hong Kong International Airport website.
  • Visit the CDC’s webpage on Travel and COVID-19
  • Enter the PRC on your U.S. passport with a valid PRC visa and keep it with you.
  • If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately.
  • If you plan to enter North Korea, read the North Korea Travel Advisory. Travelers should note that U.S. passports are not valid for travel to, in, or through North Korea, unless they are specially validated by the Department of State.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter. Follow the U.S. Embassy on TwitterWeChat, and Weibo.  Follow U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Reports for the PRC and Hong Kong SAR.
  • Prepare a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued with updates on COVID-19 and on arbitrary enforcement of local laws and to merge the PRC and Hong Kong SAR travel advisories.

About Michael Butchin

I was born, according to the official records, in the Year of the Ram, under the Element of Fire, when Johnson ruled the land with a heavy heart; in the Cradle of Liberty, to a family of bohemians. I studied Chinese language and literature at Rutgers University, New Brunswick. I spent some years in Taiwan teaching kindergarten during the day, and ESOL during the evenings. I currently work as a high school ESOL teacher, and am an unlikely martial artist. I have spent much of my life amongst actors, singers, movie stars, beautiful cultists, Taoist immortals, renegade monks, and at least one martial arts tzaddik. I currently reside in Beijing's Dongcheng district
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