The U.S. Department of State has issued a "Level 2 Travel Advisory" (exercise increased caution) for American citizens traveling to China with the warning that if they visit China, they may not be able to return home. The advisory begins with, "Exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals."
Part of the concern relates to Americans that have been impacted by exit bans and harassed and threatened by authorities. According to the travel advisory, "U.S. citizens 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 for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government."
"If you decide to travel to China:
- 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.
- If you plan to enter North Korea, read the North Korea Travel Advisory.
- 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 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. Review the Traveler’s Checklist."
Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans coercively: 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. In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.