Beijing, June 4 (IANS) Beijing on Tuesday issued a travel alert for Chinese citizens planning to travel to the US, warning them of frequent shootings, robberies and thefts.
In a statement, the Chinese Ministry of Culture and Tourism urged tourists to be aware of the risks of visiting the US and to take safety precautions.
The alert, in effect until the end of the year, comes amid escalation in the trade war between China and the US, which also seems to be affecting other aspects of bilateral ties, such as student exchanges.
The US has maintained a firm stance against China and on Monday US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo criticized Beijing’s human rights record and called for it to publicly account for those killed or missing during the Tiananmen Square protests 30 years ago.
“This is a response to the circumstances. China wouldn’t have done this if it was unnecessary,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said in a press conference about the travel alert, warning Chinese citizens and companies in the US to be cautious about “possible situations”.
Without directly acknowledging that the alert was issued in response to deteriorating ties between the two sides, Geng said that the US had recently “placed many restrictions and harassment on Chinese personnel”, Efe news reported.
Two days earlier, the Chinese Embassy in the US had warned Chinese citizens planning to visit the country to be honest when filling out visa requests and not to carry out unauthorized activities during their stay.
China’s Ministry of Education said on Monday that many Chinese students wanting to study in the US were having problems with their visas and the number of visa requests rejected by US authorities had grown from 3.2 per cent in 2018 to 13.5 per cent in the first three months of 2019.
This is not the first time that travel advisories have been used as political weapons in the trade war between China and the US.
Washington urged US citizens in January to exercise “increased caution” while travelling to China due to “arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual US-Chinese nationals”, as Beijing does not recognize dual citizenship.
The number of Chinese tourists travelling to the US declined in 2018 for the first time in 15 years, dropping 5.7 per cent to 2.9 million, according to official data.