US warns citizens of increased risk of detention in China


FILE PHOTO: Chinese and American flags flutter near the Bund, before the US trade delegation meets its Chinese counterparts for talks in Shanghai, China, July 30, 2019. REUTERS / Aly Song

BEIJING (Reuters) – The US State Department warned American citizens on Saturday to “exercise extra caution” in China due to the increased risk of arbitrary law enforcement, including detention and prohibition to leave the country.

“US citizens can be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the State Department said in a security alert to its citizens in China, adding that American citizens could face “prolonged interrogation and prolonged detention” for reasons related to state security.

“Security personnel can detain and / or deport US citizens for sending private electronic messages criticizing the Chinese government,” he added, without citing specific examples. The State Department also did not say what triggered the security alert.

Security alert comes as bilateral tensions escalate over issues ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic, to trade, to Hong Kong’s new security law and to allegations of human rights violations against Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.

Washington and Beijing recently exchanged visa bans for each other, highlighting the deterioration in relations.

The Chinese foreign ministry could not be reached for comment outside of business hours on Saturday. Beijing on Wednesday called a similar warning from Australia on the risk of arbitrary detention in China “completely ridiculous and misinformation”.

Report by Lusha Zhang and Yew Lun Tian; written by Se Young Lee; Editing by Toby Chopra

Our standards:Principles of the Thomson Reuters Trust.


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