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China issues US travel warning over official harassment

China issues US travel warning over official harassment

China issued a travel warning for the United States on Tuesday saying Chinese visitors have been interrogated and subjected to other forms of what it called harassment by US law enforcement agencies. 

American crime such as gun massacres and robberies were also highlighted. 

Relations between the world’s two largest economies have nosedived in recent months amid a bitter trade war, US sanctions against Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei, and American support for China-claimed Taiwan. 

The warning urged Chinese citizens and Chinese-funded bodies to step up their safety awareness and to take preventive measures and respond “appropriately and actively”.

It came just a day after Chinese students and academics were warned about the risks involved in studying in the US. 

On Tuesday, China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued a separate alert relating to gun attacks and other crime.

“In recent days there have been incidents of gun violence, robberies and thefts in the United States,” the ministry said. 

“The department reminds Chinese tourists to fully evaluate the risk of going to the United States, to understand the maintenance of public order of their destination, the laws and regulations, and to conscientiously raise their awareness of safety measure to ensure their safety.” 

Chinese companies and citizens in the US should also be aware of harassment from law enforcement agencies, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs added.

Both alerts are valid until December 31.

‘Same old song’?

Acrimonious rhetoric between Beijing and Washington has steadily increased since talks broke down in early May over US accusations that Beijing had backtracked on commitments to codify in law changes to its intellectual property and technology transfer practices to address US demands.

On Sunday, China issued a government policy paper on the US-China trade dispute, in which it asserted the US bore responsibility for setbacks in the talks, citing three instances when Washington allegedly reneged on commitments made during the negotiations

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters the US was “singing the same old tune” and urged Washington to read China’s white papers and stop telling itself it is infallible. 

US President Donald Trump‘s administration countered on Monday that China was playing a “blame game” in recent public statements.

In a joint statement, the US Trade Representative’s office and the US Treasury reiterated the view that China’s negotiators had “back-peddled” on important elements of a deal that had been largely agreed on, including on an enforcement provision.

“The United States is disappointed that the Chinese have chosen in the ‘White Paper’ issued [on Sunday] and recent public statements to pursue a blame game misrepresenting the nature and history of trade negotiations between the two countries,” the statement said.

“Our insistence on detailed and enforceable commitments from the Chinese in no way constitutes a threat to Chinese sovereignty,” it added. “Rather, the issues discussed are common to trade agreements and are necessary to address the systematic issues that have contributed to persistent and unsustainable trade deficits.” 

There have been no talks since the last round of negotiations ended in May and it remains unclear whether Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will meet when they both attend the G20 leaders’ summit this month in Japan.