Wed, Jul 04, 2018 - Page 1 News List

China issues US travel warning amid trade tensions

POLITICAL PRESSURE?China has an obligation to warn its citizens about potential risks abroad, a spokesman said when asked if the alert was politically motivated

Reuters, BEIJING

The Chinese embassy in Washington has issued a security advisory to Chinese nationals traveling to the US, the latest such warning as trade tensions escalate between the two nations.

The embassy warned Chinese tourists to be aware of issues including expensive medical bills, the threats of public shootings and robberies, searches and seizures by customs agents, telecommunications fraud and natural disasters.

“Public security in the United States is not good. Cases of shootings, robberies and theft are frequent,” the embassy said in the alert published on its Web site on Thursday.

“Travelers in the United States should be alert to their surroundings and suspicious individuals, and avoid going out alone at night,” it said.

It also advised travelers to dial 911 to call police and insist on speaking in Chinese to receive assistance in Chinese.

Aside from an additional warning about the risk of natural disasters, the advisory was similar to one the embassy posted in January.

Tensions are high between the two nations over the threat of tariffs.

US President Donald Trump’s administration is set to impose tariffs on US$34 billion of additional goods from China on Friday, citing unfair Chinese trade practices, and has threatened successive waves of duties on up to US$450 billion in Chinese imports.

China has vowed to retaliate in kind with its own tariffs on US agricultural products and other goods, and to take more “qualitative” measures if Trump escalates the conflict.

Asked if the timing of the alert was politically motivated, the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that summer was the high season for Chinese going to the US and that Chinese embassies had an obligation to warn citizens about potential risks abroad.

“This kind of reminder from the Chinese embassy in the relevant country, I think this is absolutely a matter that is in the scope of our duty,” ministry spokesman Lu Kang (陸慷) told a regular news briefing.

There was little mention of the latest embassy alert on Chinese social media.

China frequently issues travel warnings for Chinese abroad, generally in war-afflicted regions.

However, some foreign governments have argued that Beijing uses other means, such as curtailing outbound tourism, to settle political or trade scores, although the Chinese government typically denies such issues are linked.

China banned all group tours to South Korea for part of last year in the wake of Seoul’s decision to install the US’ Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which has a powerful radar Beijing worries can penetrate Chinese territory.

Additional reporting by staff writer

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