China has detained 13 Canadians since Huawei CFO arrest

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Its updated advice warns that USA citizens have been arbitrarily prevented from leaving the country.

Lu's briefing, posted in English translation to the ministry's website, was one of two cryptic Chinese government media events that deepened the mystery surrounding the arrests of Kovrig and Spavor.

The United States warned its citizens on Thursday they could face arbitrary action by authorities when they visit China, following the detention of two Canadians. "Level Three" would see the government advising citizens to reconsider travel plans, while "Level Four" suggests the country should be avoided.

Victor and Cynthia Liu, who are the children of a fugitive businessman, and their mother, Sandra Han, have reportedly been detained since June. State Department's January 3 warning follows China's actions in recent months to prohibit visitors with USA passports from leaving the country for a variety of reasons. However, they have since been prevented from leaving the country under exit bans.

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

"US citizens may be detained without access to USA consular services or information about their alleged crime".

He dismissed the latest U.S. travel advisory, saying that the large number of American visitors to China past year alone was proof that China was a safe country.

"US citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened".

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China-US affairs expert Yuan Zheng, from the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, an official think tank under the State Council, said the Chinese government welcomed Americans wanting to travel and do business in the country.

Make sure your U.S. passport has a valid Chinese visa and keep it with you.

"Our job is to always have Americans safe who are travelling, and we wanted to let them know that there have been more risks from what China has done in terms of folks travelling there and not being permitted to return". They say they are not in contact with their father.

Kovrig and Spavor's detention came nine days after Canadian authorities in Vancouver arrested a top executive of Chinese technology giant Huawei on December 1, at the request of the US.

Washington has accused her of fraud for helping evade USA sanctions against Iran.

Thirteen Canadians have been detained in China following the arrest on December 1 of a senior executive from Chinese telecoms equipment giant Huawei, Ottawa said Thursday, with eight subsequently released.

Beijing has also defended its decision to bar the three United States citizens from leaving the country in November. This includes effectively banning members of a family from China to lure a relative back to the country.