The State Department warns Americans to exercise “increased caution” in China as the risk of “prolonged interrogation and detention” is increased given the increasing tensions between Beijing and Washington.
The security alert, which was sent to citizens in China and received by Reuters, warns that “US citizens may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime.”
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“Security personnel can arrest and / or deport US citizens for sending private electronic messages that criticize the Chinese government,”
No one said what triggered the warning. However, US-China relations are deteriorating, especially after the spread of the Wuhan-derived coronavirus and its recent encroachments on liberties in Hong Kong with the passing of its national security law.
The government has also increased pressure against Beijing for human rights violations against Uighurs in the country’s Xinjiang region.
The State Department and the Treasury announced sanctions this week against a number of Chinese officials for their alleged role in the persecution of minorities, including forced abortion, sterilization, and forced labor.
The White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, told reporters on Friday that the actions were one of several “strong actions against the Chinese Communist Party’s human rights violations.”
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Meanwhile, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo broadened considerations that the United States could ban the TikTok app, saying it was just one of several Chinese companies to be held accountable for the threat to American data.
“We have been constantly wondering whether we can protect American citizens’ privacy and their information as a transistor,” he said. “This is not related to a particular company or company, but to the national security of the United States.”
Andrew News of Fox News contributed to this report.