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BREAKING: China tells its citizens not to travel to US as tension looms

A group of Chinese tourists take photographs on the National Mall with the U.S. Capitol in the background on April 23, 2018. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

BEIJING – China issued a travel advisory on the U.S. through the end of the year, amid spiraling trade tensions between the two countries.

The country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism cited recent “frequent” shootings, robbery and theft in America as the reason for its alert, according to the official Xinhua News Agency on Tuesday.

The travel warning was spurred by difficulties Chinese nationals are encountering while in the U.S., Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing. Asked if the move was part of the protracted trade dispute, Geng said it was a response to “current circumstances.”

The advisory came a day after China warned its students studying in the U.S. to be vigilant as the Trump administration steps up restrictions on academic visas and intensifies its scrutiny of Chinese researchers working in America.

Take more precautions’

“Recently, U.S. law enforcement agencies have repeatedly harassed Chinese citizens visiting the United States through exit and entry inspections, door-to-door interviews and other means,” state-run China Central Television reported Tuesday, citing the Foreign Ministry.

“The Foreign Ministry and Chinese embassies and consulates in the United States remind Chinese citizens and Chinese-funded institutions in the United States to raise security awareness and take more precautions,” it said.

The Culture and Tourism Ministry issued a similar notice against traveling to Canada in January, as diplomatic ties frayed following Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou’s arrest in Vancouver at America’s request. It cited Meng’s detention as the reason for its advisory, urging Chinese tourists to fully assess the risks before traveling to the North American country.

Chinese tourism to the U.S. had been falling even before the advisory. Three million Chinese tourists traveled to the U.S. in 2018, down from 3.2 million the previous year, according to the National Travel and Tourism Office, which collects data from U.S. customs forms.

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