Thursday, 6 Aug 2020

US warns Americans in China of heightened arbitrary detention risk

BEIJING (REUTERS) – The US State Department warned American citizens on Saturday (July 11) of the heightened risk of arbitrary law enforcement in China, including detention and a ban from exiting the country.

“US citizens may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime,” the State Department said in an e-mail to its citizens in China, adding that US citizens may face “prolonged interrogations and extended detention” for reasons related to “state security”.

“Security personnel may detain and/or deport US citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government,” it added, without citing specific examples. The state department also did not say what prompted the security alert.

The security alert comes as bilateral tensions intensify over issues ranging from the coronavirus pandemic, trade, the new Hong Kong security law and allegations of human rights violations against Uighurs in the Xinjiang region.

Washington and Beijing recently exchanged visa bans against each other’s officials, underscoring the deteriorating relations.

The Chinese foreign ministry could not be immediately reached for comment outside of business hours on Saturday.

Beijing called on Wednesday a similar warning issued by Australia about the risk of arbitrary detention in China “completely ridiculous and disinformation.”

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