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Overseas Security Advisory Council
Bureau of Diplomatic Security
U.S. Department of State

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References

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Level 3: Reconsider travel

Travel Advisory: Hong Kong - Level 3 (Reconsider Travel)

Reconsider travel to the People’s Republic of China (PRC), including the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR), due to COVID-19 and arbitrary enforcement of local laws.

Read the Department of State’s COVID-19 page before you plan any international travel.  

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has issued a Level 3 Travel Health Notice for the PRC and Hong Kong due to COVID-19.

The PRC has resumed most business operations (including day cares and schools). Other improved conditions have been reported within the PRC. Visit the Embassy's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in the PRC.

Effective March 28, 2020, the PRC suspended entry into mainland China by foreign nationals holding visas or residence permits. On August 10, 2020, this ban was modified to allow entry of some nationals, not including the United States. Most commercial air carriers have reduced routes to and from mainland China.

The Hong Kong SAR has resumed most transportation and business operations. Other improved conditions have been reported within Hong Kong. Visit the Consulate General's COVID-19 page for more information on COVID-19 in Hong Kong. 

Please monitor the Hong Kong government’s website for further updates on COVID-19.

Country Summary:

The PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including by carrying out arbitrary and wrongful detentions and through the use of exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law. The PRC government uses arbitrary detention and exit bans: 

  • to compel individuals to participate in PRC government investigations,
  • to pressure family members to return to the PRC from abroad,
  • to influence PRC authorities to resolve civil disputes in favor of PRC citizens, and
  • to gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.

In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of an exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC, and there is no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it in a court of law.

U.S. citizens traveling or residing in the PRC or Hong Kong, 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 without due process of law.

Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC government.

The PRC government does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-PRC citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional scrutiny and harassment, and the PRC government may prevent the U.S. Embassy from providing consular services.

XINJIANG UYGHUR AUTONOMOUS REGION and TIBET AUTONOMOUS REGION

Extra security measures, such as security checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang Uyghur and Tibet Autonomous Regions. Authorities may impose curfews and travel restrictions on short notice.

HONG KONG SPECIAL ADMINISTRATIVE REGION

Since the imposition of national security legislation on July 1, the PRC unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power in Hong Kong. The PRC has demonstrated an intention to use this authority to target a broad range of activities it defines as acts of secession, subversion, terrorism, and “collusion” with foreign countries. The new legislation also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, which could subject U.S. citizens who have been publicly critical of the PRC to a heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution. PRC security forces, including the new Office for Safeguarding National Security, now operate in Hong Kong.

Demonstrations: Participating in demonstrations or any other activities that authorities interpret as constituting an act of secession, subversion, terrorism, or collusion with a foreign country could result in criminal charges. On July 1, 2020, as part of its color-coded system of warning flags, the Hong Kong police unveiled a new purple flag, which warns protesters that shouting slogans or carrying banners with an intent prohibited by the law could now bring criminal charges.

U.S. citizens are strongly cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and avoid demonstrations.

Propaganda: A PRC propaganda campaign has falsely accused individuals of fomenting unrest in Hong Kong. In some cases, the campaign, has published their personal information, resulting in threats of violence on social media.

Read the country information page for the PRC and for Hong Kong.

If you decide to travel to Hong Kong:

  • Monitor local media, local transportations sites and apps like MTR Mobile or CitybusNWFB, and the Hong Kong International Airport website for updates.
  • Avoid the areas of the demonstrations.
  • Exercise caution if you are in the vicinity of large gatherings or protests.
  • Avoid taking photographs of protesters or police without permission.
  • Be aware of your surroundings.
  • Keep a low profile.
  • Review your flight status with your airline or at the Hong Kong International Airport website.
  • Follow U.S. Consulate General Hong Kong on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to receive Alerts and make it easier to locate you in an emergency.
  • Follow the Department of State on Facebook and Twitter.
  • Review the Crime and Safety Report for Hong Kong.
  • U.S. citizens who travel abroad should always have a contingency plan for emergency situations. Review the Traveler’s Checklist.

Last Update: Reissued with updates on COVID-19 and China’s implementation of a national security law in Hong Kong.

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