China Exit Ban

Old May 5, 19, 8:54 am
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China Exit Ban

As an American tourist (Caucasian), should I be concerned about the State Department's recent travel advisory regarding China's "exit ban"?

Chinese authorities have asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans coercively:

  • to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
  • to lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
  • to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
In most cases, U.S. 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. U.S. citizens under exit bans have been harassed and threatened.U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.”

I will be traveling to Shanghai and Beijing in October, and had already booked my r/t flights months before I became aware of the travel ban.

Have there been any reports of American tourists arbitrarily being detained in China due to this policy?

FYI:

- I have multiple stamps in my U.S. passport, including ones from the U.A.E. and Egypt.
Will this be an issue?
I ask is because I've read reports of individuals with middle East stamps in their passports having issues entering/leaving China.

- The travel advisory mentions that one of the reasons China may prevent U.S. citizens from leaving the country is to use them as pawns to resolve business disputes with American corporations (even if said individuals have nothing to do with the disputes).
I work for a major transit authority that does business with China. It's very conceivable that they may have certain disputes, and I don't want to get caught in the middle of it. Should I not mention that I work for this agency when I apply for my Chinese visa?

- Prior to entering mainland China, I will be visiting Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei.
My Chinese coworker advises me not to visit these places before entering China because it may arouse suspicion of drug trafficking. He says I should "just stay in China".
Is there any validity to this?

I apologize if I sound paranoid. I just want to ensure my trip to China goes smoothly. If not, I'll cancel it. After all, the trip is for pleasure, not business.
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Old May 5, 19, 10:44 am
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If you or a member of your family is a former Chinese citizen that the Chine Governement is trying to arrest for corruption, then you need to worry. Otherwise, a non-event.
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Old May 5, 19, 12:41 pm
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Anyone else care to chime in?
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Old May 5, 19, 12:48 pm
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If you're in the sort of business or have the sort of family connections that make travel to China a bit of a risk, you would know it. Most big foreign companies have business in China these days. Not an issue.

That your friend thinks travel to those other countries on a trip to China would be an issue (for China) suggests he's not well clued-in.
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Old May 5, 19, 12:59 pm
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In my experience, government-issued travel advisories serve two purposes: (a) giving government press officers something to defend themselves with if some visiting tourists do something stupid and get into trouble; (b) providing some extra diplomatic tools for negotiating with foreign states ("if you do/don't that, we'll change our travel advice"). I'd say unless you have some specific connection with the Chinese state or are planning to do something controversial, you'll be totally fine, and can safely ignore this travel advice.

That said, if you think you'll spend your entire holiday worrying about whether or not you'll be allowed to leave the country, I'd choose to go somewhere else and have a relaxing holiday. But I don't think you have anything at all to worry about, based on the facts you've provided above.
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Old May 5, 19, 7:54 pm
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Most tourists to China come from Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei. No issue here. Don't get advice from that friend.
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Old May 6, 19, 4:44 am
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Originally Posted by joer1212 View Post
- Prior to entering mainland China, I will be visiting Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei.
My Chinese coworker advises me not to visit these places before entering China because it may arouse suspicion of drug trafficking. He says I should "just stay in China".
Is there any validity to this?

I apologize if I sound paranoid. I just want to ensure my trip to China goes smoothly. If not, I'll cancel it. After all, the trip is for pleasure, not business.
Seriously? This dude is clearly off his rocker!
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Old May 6, 19, 5:07 am
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Originally Posted by joer1212 View Post
- Prior to entering mainland China, I will be visiting Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur and Taipei.
My Chinese coworker advises me not to visit these places before entering China because it may arouse suspicion of drug trafficking. He says I should "just stay in China".
100% nonsense. Just because he's a Chinese living overseas doesn't mean he knows a wit about what goes on in China. I have multiple stamps from all four of those (Greater China) locations in my U.S. passport, and later this week I will be making my third trip of 2019 to China with no worries that I would be prevented from exiting. It's true that secret police are everywhere in China, physically and electronically, but they don't target the thousands of individuals every day who go back and forth between the Mainland and Greater China locations simply on the basis of having visited those places.
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Old May 6, 19, 6:29 pm
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Since that travel advisory was posted last year, I've entered/exited China nearly 10 times without issue as a US citizen. I enter China every time from Hong Kong without any issue, no checks, no suspicion of drug trafficking. I have a coworker who enters/exits China daily from HK with a Canadian passport without issue. The only issue he has is he needs to get a new passport every few months as it fills up with entry/exit stamps.
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Old May 6, 19, 6:37 pm
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Originally Posted by synthkeys View Post
Since that travel advisory was posted last year, I've entered/exited China nearly 10 times without issue as a US citizen. I enter China every time from Hong Kong without any issue, no checks, no suspicion of drug trafficking. I have a coworker who enters/exits China daily from HK with a Canadian passport without issue. The only issue he has is he needs to get a new passport every few months as it fills up with entry/exit stamps.
He should get echannel; no stamps at all, though I think they are available upon request.
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Old May 6, 19, 6:42 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
He should get echannel; no stamps at all, though I think they are available upon request.
Oh I've suggested this to him multiple times but he doesn't have an RP and he's crossing every day on a tourist visa, not what I would do but to each their own.
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Old May 6, 19, 6:49 pm
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Originally Posted by synthkeys View Post
Oh I've suggested this to him multiple times but he doesn't have an RP and he's crossing every day on a tourist visa, not what I would do but to each their own.
Apart from the lack of stamps, echannel is extremely useful if you're going to Shenzhen often. Before I had it, I would avoid Shenzhen Bay crossing, due to the possibility of long lines, but I now use it almost exclusively, and can reliably get from end to end in under 10 minutes.

Last edited by moondog; May 6, 19 at 7:36 pm
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Old May 6, 19, 9:03 pm
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Thanks for all the helpful feedback, guys. Very encouraging news. I'm now strongly leaning towards keeping my travel plans intact.
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Old May 6, 19, 9:26 pm
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Originally Posted by moondog View Post
Apart from the lack of stamps, echannel is extremely useful if you're going to Shenzhen often. Before I had it, I would avoid Shenzhen Bay crossing, due to the possibility of long lines, but I now use it almost exclusively, and can reliably get from end to end in under 10 minutes.
To completely derail this thread, I wish I could get China eChannel, but alas, I only have a lowly M visa. I usually transit Shenzhen Bay. Typically my flight to HKG arrives on Saturday mornings, so I hit the checkpoint shortly after opening, definitely before 8AM. I've never had more than 15 minute wait usually between 5-10 mins. Last Saturday, I was able to use the Special lane with the APEC card for the first time. Usually the Special lane is longer than the foreigner line as they tend to send elderly mainlanders and those with young children to the Special lane. This time, foreigner line had 3 lanes open with maybe 4-5 people on each line. I noticed the Special lane was empty and popped on over there with only 1 ahead of me, 2 minutes tops to cross. Finally got some use out of the APEC card.
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Old May 6, 19, 9:55 pm
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Originally Posted by synthkeys View Post
To completely derail this thread, I wish I could get China eChannel, but alas, I only have a lowly M visa. I usually transit Shenzhen Bay. Typically my flight to HKG arrives on Saturday mornings, so I hit the checkpoint shortly after opening, definitely before 8AM. I've never had more than 15 minute wait usually between 5-10 mins. Last Saturday, I was able to use the Special lane with the APEC card for the first time. Usually the Special lane is longer than the foreigner line as they tend to send elderly mainlanders and those with young children to the Special lane. This time, foreigner line had 3 lanes open with maybe 4-5 people on each line. I noticed the Special lane was empty and popped on over there with only 1 ahead of me, 2 minutes tops to cross. Finally got some use out of the APEC card.
I also don't want to derail this thread because I believe we have a thread on RPs and echannel, but following are points that I know:
1) getting the Z visa was shockingly painful
-diploma and criminal background check both need state department and PRC consulate authentication; the former takes a bit of time, unless you show them an airplane ticket for the next day (which, you obviously won't be using)
-the medical check is pretty easy, but only certain hospitals can do it
-need to write a job posting for your own job in Chinese
-although I normally prefer to do things myself, in this case using an agent was the right path

2) If you are a student, I have to believe X visas are much easier
-your school simply issues them on its own, so not much bureaucracy
-they will presumably arrange an appointment at the hospital for you

3) I'm not certain about other visa types, but I think at least Q1 works
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