The Chinese regime on June 4 issued a travel advisory for the United States, one day after it warned students hoping to study in the country about U.S. visa delays, in its latest salvo against Washington in an escalating trade dispute.
China’s Ministry of Culture issued a safety warning to Chinese tourists, citing frequent shootings, robberies, and thefts in the United States. The advisory, however, didn’t provide any statistics or further information.
Meanwhile, in a separate advisory, China’s Foreign Ministry and its embassy in the United States cautioned Chinese companies and citizens to raise their awareness of measures by U.S. law enforcement agencies, including immigration checks and interviews, that “harass” Chinese travelers. Both alerts are valid through the end of the year.
The warnings come as relations between the two countries have deteriorated, following the Trump administration raising tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese goods. After U.S. officials accused the communist regime of backtracking on commitments negotiated over months of trade talks, Beijing hit back, increasing tariffs on $60 billion of U.S. goods.
The U.S. administration later placed Chinese telecom firm Huawei on a trade blacklist, effectively banning it from doing business with U.S. companies, on national security grounds. In an apparent response, the Chinese regime said it would create an “unreliable entity list” of foreign companies, individuals, and organizations that harm Chinese businesses.
On June 2, Beijing also issued a white paper outlining its position on trade talks, in which it blamed the United States for the breakdown in talks. The Trump administration, in a statement on June 3, responded by saying the regime was pursuing a “blame game” and misrepresenting the trade discussions.
The Chinese regime also issued a warning on June 3 to students and academics wishing to study in the United States, citing a recent increase in U.S. visa delays, visas being restricted, visa durations being shortened, or outright refusals.
A spokesperson for the U.S. embassy in Beijing told South China Morning Post that it rejected “the unfounded allegation of a widespread and baseless campaign to deny Chinese visas,” and pointed to an increasing number of cases of persons being co-opted to work for foreign governments while in the United States.
“National security is our top priority when adjudicating visa applications,” the spokesperson said. “Every visa decision is a national security decision, and every prospective traveler to the United States undergoes extensive security screening.”
In 2018, the Trump administration stepped up measures aimed to prevent the theft of U.S. intellectual property, including those occurring at U.S. academic institutions and research laboratories. In June 2018, the U.S. State Department increased scrutiny of visa applications from Chinese nationals studying in specific fields that the Chinese regime has targeted for development, such as robotics, aviation, and high-tech manufacturing.
The United States has its own Level 2 travel advisory on China, urging citizens to exercise “increased caution” due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws, as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.”
The alert was renewed earlier this year following the arrest of two Canadians in China, a move observers said was done in retaliation for Canadian authorities arresting Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou at the request of the U.S. prosecutors in Vancouver in December 2018.
Reuters contributed to this report.