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The US Department of State issued a new travel warning on China, officially increasing its travel advisory rating for China to Level 2 (exercise increased precautions) on Thursday.

The new precautionary level is due to China’s “arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals,” the alert says. “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,” the bulletin continues, noting that these so-called exit bans are used to coerce citizens to partake in government investigations, coax Chinese individuals back into the country from abroad and aid authorities in civil disputes.

In July 2018, China released its own travel advisory for Chinese citizens visiting the US. The notice warned that Chinese tourists should look out for “gunfights, stabbings, and muggings” and also advises them to “be very vigilant about the people around [you], and avoid walking out alone at night.”

Since China is now a Level 2 advisory, American travelers should follow specific guidelines while visiting such as carrying their US passport and a valid Chinese visa with them at all times, enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) to keep updated on emergency alerts, follow the Department of State and US Embassy on social media.

China is by no means the only country with a Level 2 advisory level. US travelers are also suggested to “exercise increased precautions” in South Africa, Brazil, Spain, France, United Kingdom, India, Russia and many other nations. More information on travel advisory levels and how to handle emergency situations in China can be found here, on the US State Department’s Country Information page.

Featured image by Igor Golovniov/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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