US State Department Renews China Traveling Advisory Over Raised Diplomatic Tensions

Diplomat Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor were seized separately last month by China's spy agency

On the State Department website, the caution level has been raised to "Level Two", suggesting citizens "exercise increased caution" when visiting the country.

China, the travel advisory says, does not recognize dual nationality.

The rights of foreign nationals in China have received renewed focus because of public concern over the fate of three U.S. citizens accused of committing "economic crimes" in the country.

The updated guidance was issued amid increasing tensions between the US and China over ongoing trade disputes, as well as the December 1 arrest of Huawei Technologies Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou in Vancouver.

China's chief prosecutor, Zhang Jun, told a separate briefing Thursday that "without a doubt" Kovrig and Spavor broke the country's laws and are being investigated.

Spavor is a China-based tourism consultant with contacts among high-ranking North Korean officials, while Hong Kong-based Kovrig had been working for the nongovernmental organization International Crisis Group (ICG).

The cases of Kovrig and Spavor have attracted concern and attention because of the serious charge from the Chinese against the two of "endangering national security". "I'm sure they could've put pressure on China in a way that did not hold somebody captive".

China insists the detention of both men is not linked to Ms Meng's arrest, but many analysts believe it was a tit-for-tat action. "Mutual understanding and mutual benefit comes after we get to know one another", he said.

The US travel advisory also warned that American citizens under the ban have been "harassed and threatened" and they "may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime". American officials claim that Meng Wanzhou violated US sanctions on trade with Iran by misleading American financial institutions into facilitating the deals. Nor did the State Department say what triggered the updated travel advisory.

The Canadian government has said several times it sees no explicit link between the arrest of Meng, the daughter of Huawei's founder, and the detentions of Canadian citizens.

December 7: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada's envoy to China has briefed Chinese officials about Meng's case.

A statement said that detentions resulting from the exit bans could last "for years" and those arrested would be subject to the "arbitrary enforcement of local laws".

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