Lawyers and activists have warned that China could use this claim of extraterritorial jurisdiction – the law could theoretically be used to lay charges against anyone from any country – to stifle criticism from around the world. The State Department did not specify what triggered the alert, but warned that criticism of the Chinese government, even in private communications, could be used against foreign citizens.
“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 email warned that US citizens could be detained “without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime,” as well as “lengthy interrogations and prolonged detention” for security-related reasons. the state.
The security alert comes at a time when tensions are mounting between the two superpowers, from trade to the Covid-19 pandemic, via China’s management of Hong Kong and the treatment of minorities in the extreme. west of Xinjiang, where there is a large network of internments. camps. An increasing series of tit-to-tat measures has also seen the United States and China restrict the operations of journalists from the other country within their borders. Australia issued a similar warning last Wednesday against the risk of arbitrary detention in China, which Beijing called “completely ridiculous and misinformation.”
China has been accused of diplomacy hostage after the arrest of two Canadians, who have recently been accused of spying after more than 18 months in prison. Michael Kovrig, former diplomat, and Michael Spavor, businessman, were arrested in 2018, a few days after Canadian authorities arrested the chief financial officer of Huawei technology firm Meng Wanzhou on a warrant. extradition.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said China had “directly linked the case of the two Michaels to the legal proceedings against Miss Meng”, which was “extremely disappointing”. He repeatedly urged China to release the men. China has always rejected suggestions that none of its criminal proceedings against foreigners are politically motivated.