Friday, May 24, 2024

China issues travel advisory for the US, warning of searches and harassment

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China issued a travel advisory for citizens visiting the United States, asking them to take safety precautions and to be prepared for “various unexpected situations”, such as being searched.
Several Chinese students and company employees have recently been subjected to “unwarranted interrogations and harassment” by US airport law enforcement officers, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on its WeChat account on Friday.

Their phones, computers and other luggage items were searched piece by piece, and several people were banned from entering the country, it said.

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“The ministry and the Chinese embassy and consulates in the US have lodged a solemn representation to the US, and we remind those who plan to travel to the US to be aware of these situations,” it said, advising Chinese nationals in need of help to contact their embassy or consulate.

In January, China Science Daily, a newspaper affiliated with the Chinese Academy of Sciences, reported that a biological sciences PhD candidate was deported by officials at Dulles airport in December as she was trying to return to the US to continue her studies.

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The report said the student was subjected to a body search and spent eight hours in an interrogation room followed by 12 hours in solitary confinement.

When she returned to China, she learned of 10 other Chinese students who had similar experiences. The students were mainly interrogated on their undergraduate scholarships from the China Scholarship Council and their involvement in confidential research, the newspaper said.

On March 8, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Mao Ning said the US has disrupted personnel exchanges between the two countries, violating the consensus reached by the heads of states. She called the incidents “political and discriminatory law enforcement” and said they were caused by the “cold war mentality” of some people in the US.

Last month, ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said US authorities were “weaponising” academic research, overextending the concept of national security, persecuting Chinese students, and “poisoning” the atmosphere of bilateral people-to-people exchanges.

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In recent months, the two countries have pledged to encourage educational and other exchanges. In November, while on a visit to the US, Chinese President Xi Jinping announced China would invite 50,000 young Americans to study in the next five years.

This week, Xi met representatives from the US business community, academia and policy circles. He noted that the “China-US relationship is one of the most important bilateral relationships in the world” and expressed hope that people from all sectors in both countries could take part in more visits and exchanges.

Following that meeting, Chinese Minister of Education Huai Jinpeng met Stephen Schwarzman, chairman of investment management company Blackstone Group, and his delegation in Beijing on Thursday. Huai stressed that the ministry would encourage top universities in both China and the US to increase student exchanges and increase high-level cooperation.

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