The US State Department issued a warning to Americans thinking of travelling to China that they could face “coercive” exit bans employed by Beijing as the countries continue to face off over trade, the Financial Times reports.
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.”
The exit bans serve several purposes for the Chinese government, the statement went on, such as forced participation in government investigations, and keeping homegrown talent from fleeing abroad.
“In most cases, US citizens only become aware of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China, and there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. US citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened,” the State Department said.
In November Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou was taken into custody at a Canadian airport on a US arrest warrant for alleged banking fraud linked to illegal trading arrangements with Iran. Since then two Canadian citizens have been detained by Chinese authorities, pending investigation.