Americans urged to reconsider any SAR travel plansTop News | Wallis Wang 16 Sep 2020
The US State Department has raised Hong Kong's travel alert from "exercise increased caution" to the second highest "reconsider travel."
The department also yesterday relaxed its advisory for China in general, downgrading its "do not travel" alert in June to "reconsider travel."
The department upgraded Hong Kong's alert as it believed Beijing has "unilaterally and arbitrarily exercised police and security power" since the national security law came into effect on July 1.
China has "demonstrated an intention to use this authority to target a broad range of activities it defines as acts of secession, subversion, terrorism and 'collusion' with foreign countries," the department said.
"The new legislation also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, which could subject US citizens who have been publicly critical of [China] to a heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion or prosecution."
The new advisory supersedes a notice issued in June urging American travelers to "exercise increased caution" because of the unrest in Hong Kong.
The department warned its citizens to avoid participating in demonstrations as it could result in criminal charges.
It also said China's propaganda campaign has "falsely accused" individuals of "fomenting unrest in Hong Kong," which could lead to their personal information being leaked and threats of violence on social media.
The department downgraded its highest "do not travel" alert, issued in June, to a softer "reconsider travel" as China resumed most business operations, including day-care centers and schools, after the worst period of the pandemic.
But it also warned Americans planning to travel to China that they may face an exit ban when they attempt to depart the country and may be subjected to "prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law."
It added: "US citizens traveling or residing in [China] or Hong Kong may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime."
It also said China had started allowing the entry of some foreign nationals on August 10, but Americans were excluded from the list.