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China Travel Advice

The recent advisory from Dean Flotte and ISS re: travel to China was shared in an abundance of caution given the volume and importance of UMMS-China travel and exchange. 

The latest US State Department Advisory (published January 3, 2019) does not in itself represent a major increase in risk; China was and remains a Level 2 country on the State Department ratings scale (meaning that travelers should “Exercise increased caution” when visiting). More than 70 countries in the world have the same travel advisory level, and UMMS does not restrict travel to State Dept. Level 2 destinations. The last Travel Advisory for China was issued in January 2018, so a review/re-issuance would have been conducted around this time regardless of recent developments. 

Many of the themes highlighted in the January 2019 Travel Advisory were also included in the January 2018 iteration - such as exit bans, difficulty obtaining consular services in the event of arrest, prolonged detentions and interrogations for reasons related to “state security,” and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.  Recent web articles have suggested that China uses exit bans to “effectively kidnap” U.S. citizens; however, that specific phrase it not found anywhere in either the January 2018 or the January 2019 iteration of the China Travel Advisory and does not appear to be warranted.

The advisory notes that China continues to use ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. Specifically, exit bans have been used coercively to:

  • compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations,
  • lure individuals back to China from abroad, and
  • 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.

If you decide to travel to China:

  • Enter China on your U.S. passport with a valid Chinese visa and keep it with you.
  • If you are arrested or detained, ask police or prison officials to notify the U.S. Embassy or the nearest consulate immediately.
  • Keep your emergency point-of-contact aware of your travel, in particular your departure date.  We recommend you check-in prior to going to the airport and when you board your plane, so that we can monitor your exit and verify that you have successfully passed through the security check.
  • As always, reach out for support from ISS via email or phone.  See "Contact Us" box at the left.
  • In case of emergency, please call UMass Travel Assistance Plan (AXA) or the UMMS emergency phone - details at left.
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