On Tuesday, the US State Department warned against travel to China and Hong Kong. The State Department, under Trump’s administration, issued an advisory warning American citizens of potential problems in traveling to both Hong Kong and Mainland China. It was a back-handed effort aimed at China. On the one hand, the U.S. Department of State lowered its advisory for China “Do not travel” (a level 4 advisory) to “reconsider travel” (a level 3.) The advisory urges Americans to “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.”
I recently visited both locations. At the time, my biggest concern was Coronavirus but at the same time, I have been conscious of the growing tensions between Hong Kong and the People’s Republic of China’s government.
Issues Creating Tensions Between the United States and China
There have been developing tensions with China over recent years. Since Trump was elected president these have become worse. The Coronavirus pandemic likely accelerated the deterioration of relations.
Currently, the Trump administration has had issues with China over trade, suspect technology (TikTok, Huawei) and China’s continuing encroachment and claims in the South China Sea.
The United States has also protested China’s actions toward Taiwan and Tibet, as they seek to claim these nations as their own.
Most recently, US ambassador to China Terry Branstad has stepped down from that diplomatic post. This comes as another step in the spat between the two superpowers. Just a few days earlier China announced it would place ‘unspecified’ restrictions on senior US diplomats and other ‘personnel’ within its country. That was a tit-for-tat response to the Trump administration’s similar actions on Chinese personnel and diplomats in early September.
Both countries also recently imposed additional visa restrictions on students and journalists.
Hong Kong as a Separate Issue
In August, the Trump administration either terminated or suspended several bilateral agreements with Hong Kong which involved extradition and tax exemptions. The basis for these actions cited Beijing’s violation of its commitment to allow Hong Kong to retain strong autonomy for fifty years following the handover of Hong King to Chinese rule in 1997.
While in Hong Kong, I was keenly aware of the ‘Hong Kongers’ public protests against an ever encroaching Beijing control over the ‘Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China.’ Each day, my hotel briefed me on ‘safe’ areas to travel in the city and places to avoid.
This is a Potential Big Blow to Delta & SkyTeam Partners
Delta has a financial stake in China Eastern Airlines. China Eastern Airlines is China’s second-largest carrier (first place goes to China Southern Airlines.) The Chinese government owns more than 60 percent of the air carrier. The Trump administration had been trying to assure airline parity with regards to US and China carriers carrying passengers between the two countries.
This latest warning against travel to China and Hong Kong could impact Delta’s financials. Over the past several years, Delta has worked to develop a strong presence in the growing Asian air market. It developed a major hub in Seattle to feed traffic into its Asian partners in the region. Those include Korean Air as well as China Eastern.
US State Department Warns Against Travel to China and Hong Kong
On its website the State Department’s advisory puts forth a potentially ominous warning for travelers to or through either China or Hong Kong. It warns that the PRC government could (and does) carry out ‘arbitrary and wrongful detentions.’ It further warns of ‘exit bans’ on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without due process of law.
That could be a deal-breaker for many leisure travelers and potentially cataclysmic for business travelers.
To take it a step further, it goes on to warn that US Citizens ‘may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime.’
It has been the toughest time we have ever seen over a protracted time for travel. The Coronavirus pandemic put the world of travel on hold. Potentially, travel through China and Hong Kong might even add greater risks than COVID-19 to your trip.
I travel often through these two areas, but am considering altering my short-term plans (first part of 2021) to excluded Hong Kong and Mainland China from my travels. Taiwan still holds a great appeal for me, and well, I also have an official boarding pass for a flight to Mars in 2026! You can still get yours.
Does the recent fact that the US State Department warns against travel to China and Hong Kong impact your future plans to travel through either?
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