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US warns against travelling in China

07 January 2019

The U.S. updated its "level two" travel advisory Thursday, after news broke of China having detained more than a dozen Canadian nationals since the beginning of December. The U.S., Australia and the United Kingdom have joined Canada's call for their release.

Kovrig, a former diplomat and Spavor, a businessman, has been detained last month in Beijing by its authority over the suspicion of endangered Chinese national security.

China on Friday rebutted the State Department's description of the dangers associated with traveling to the country, according to ABC News.

The warning comes as three United States citizens were accused of committing "economic crimes" and barred from leaving China in November.

The US travel advisory for China is also prompted by the recent arrest of the top Chinese executive Meng Wanzhou in Canada at the request of America, raising uncertainties of potential retaliatory arrests of Americans or Canadians in China.

Canadian teacher Sarah McIver was reportedly released last week after she was held for "unlawfully working in China".

One reason Chinese-American travelers may be vulnerable is that the Chinese government does not recognize dual nationalities.

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Chinese law makes it extremely hard for foreign non-governmental organizations to register because they have to find a local sponsor, said James Zimmerman, a lawyer in and former chairman of the American Chamber of Commerce in China.

It adds USA citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.

United States national security adviser John Bolton said in a Twitter post in November that "these Americans need to be allowed to return home". Diplomatic tensions between Canada and China have escalated since Ms Meng's arrest on Dec 1. American officials claim that Meng Wanzhou violated US sanctions on trade with Iran by misleading American financial institutions into facilitating the deals.

Ottawa has repeatedly said it sees no explicit link between the arrest of Meng and the detentions of Canadian citizens.

"I and the other members of the delegation will engage with Chinese officials in as constructive way as possible, with the obvious objective of seeing these two Canadians returned safely and as soon as possible", Cooper said. A source familiar with the conditions of Kovrig's detention says he is questioned three times a day and kept in a room with the lights on continuously.

Meng was released on a C$10 million ($7.4 million) bail on December 11 and is now living in one of her two multi-million-dollar Vancouver homes as she fights extradition to the United States.

US warns against travelling in China