The United States (U.S.) Department of State has issued a Level 2 Travel Advisory for China. There are four Travel Advisory Levels, with Level 1 or normal, being the lowest and Level 4 or do not travel, being the highest. Level 2 states that citizens should exercise extreme caution. This is due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, as well as restrictions placed on dual U.S.-Chinese citizens.
The State Department states that Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from exiting the country through the use of exit bans. China uses the bans to:
- to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
- to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
- to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
Citizens are made aware of the bans as they prepare to depart China. They are usually detained and are denied U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crimes because China does not recognize dual nationality.
The State Department wants travelers to China to do the following:
- Enter China on your U.S. passport with a valid Chinese 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.
- Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program 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 Twitter, WeChat, and Weibo.
- Review the Crime and Safety Reports for China.
- U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations.
To think that you can be detained for not having committed a crime, other than being a dual citizen, is quite scary. While I had some issues with Chinese immigration during my visit last year, it was nothing compared to the exit bans. As with any travel, be mindful of your surroundings and know your rights.