The State Department warned US citizens living in or traveling to China they may face arbitrary arrest, the latest sign of deteriorating relations between Washington and Beijing.
“Exercise increased caution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws for purposes other than maintaining law and order,” State said in a travel advisory on its website that was also emailed to US citizens registered as being in China. “This arbitrary enforcement may include detention and the use of exit bans.”
The warning, sent on Saturday morning US time, says that Chinese security forces may “detain and/or deport” American citizens for “sending private electronic messages critical of” China’s government.
“US citizens may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime. US citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to ‘state security,'” the warning added.
Tensions between the US and China have risen in the wake of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic. President Donald Trump and other administration officials have blamed China for taking insufficient actions to contain the spread of Covid-19.
Trump said Friday that the relationship is “severely damaged,” and that he is no longer thinking about a phase two trade deal to ease a tit-for-tat tariff standoff between the two countries.