The U.S. State Department updated its travel warning for China Thursday, urging visitors to the country to “exercise increased caution.”
The department explained that the warning was because of “arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.”
They cautioned that Chinese authorities sometimes keep U.S. citizens in the country for years through “exit bans.”
The State Department noted that U.S. citizens that are under these bans “have been harassed and threatened.” Those under the bans only become aware of the ban when they try to leave China and have no way of determining how long they will be detained there.
"U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime," according to the warning. "U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to 'state security.'"
“U.S.-Chinese citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and China may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services,” the department added.
“Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions, they warned. “Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.”
The State Department travel advisories go up to the Level 4 “Do Not Travel” warning. China earned a Level 2 "exercise increased caution" travel advisory last year. Other countries that have the Level 2 warnings are the United Kingdom, France, Belgium and Russia due to concerns over the possibility of terrorism.
The Chinese government has been cracking down on Christians and recently detained activist pastor Wang Yi and over 100 of his congregants.