China says US travel advisory 'cannot stand up to scrutiny'

An aerial view taken with a drone shows visitors tour colorful structure made from blocks of ice at the Harbin International Ice and Snow festival held in Harbin in northeastern's China's Heilongjiang province, Friday, Jan. 4, 2019. The Harbin International Ice and Snow Festival is known for massive, elaborate and colorfully lit ice sculptures featuring animals, cartoon characters and famous landmarks. (AP Photo/Olivia Zhang)

China has rebutted a U.S. travel advisory that once again urges American nationals to "exercise increased caution" when travelling in the Communist Party-ruled country

BEIJING — China on Friday rebutted a U.S. travel advisory that urges American nationals to "exercise increased caution" when travelling in the Communist Party-ruled country.

The advisory, which warns of the potential for arbitrary detentions, "cannot stand up to scrutiny," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang, who noted that 2.3 million Americans visited China between January and November 2018.

"I think this figure speaks volumes for the security condition in China," Lu said, adding that it far outnumbers the number of Chinese people visiting the U.S. "The U.S., however, has recently used various excuses to conduct gratuitous inspections and create obstacles for Chinese citizens entering the U.S."

The spokesman did not mention specific instances in which Chinese citizens encountered difficulty entering the U.S. An American official told the AP last May that Chinese graduate students studying in fields like robotics and aviation in the U.S. would be limited to one-year visas, while Chinese citizens seeking visas to work for companies on a U.S. Commerce Department list would need special clearance.

An updated U.S. State Department notice warns that China sometimes arbitrarily detains U.S. citizens or prevents them from leaving the country. The notice says the "exit bans" are imposed to compel Americans to facilitate government investigations or resolve business disputes. U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny, it adds.

"U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to 'state security,'" the advisory says. "Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government."

The notice is largely the same as one released a year ago, with the addition of a paragraph noting security checks and increased police presence in the Xinjiang and Tibet regions.

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