China Warns Citizens Against U.S. Travel, Citing ‘Frequent’ Shootings

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Chinese encountering difficulties in U.S., ministry says
Trade tensions deepen between U.S. and China ahead of G-20

China issued a travel advisory on the U.S. through the end of the year, threatening to further hurt some luxury goods makers in the latest salvo of a trade battle that appears to be escalating by the day.

The country’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism cited recent “frequent” shootings, robbery and theft as the reason for its alert, the official Xinhua News Agency said on Tuesday. It didn’t provide any statistics or further details.

“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.

Asked if the move was part of the protracted trade dispute, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing it was a response to “current circumstances.”

Tensions between the U.S. and China have deepened in recent weeks, after trade negotiations between them fell apart in early May. The Trump administration has since blacklisted China’s crown jewel, Huawei Technologies Co., and is considering similar restrictions on more of the country’s tech firms. In response, China has threatened its own blacklist of “unreliable entities.”
Already Falling

China hasn’t issued a similar warning about travel to the U.S. in at least the past decade, according to a search of state-run media. The foreign ministry advised travelers last October that U.S. customs enforcement officers had the right to check their belongings such as bags, electronic devices and autos without a search warrant. It also issued safety tips to Chinese tourists travelling to the remote U.S. territory of Saipan after a typhoon in November.
Tourism Slowing Since Mid-2018

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. But Chinese citizens still spent more while stateside: $36.4 billion in 2018 — up from $35.3 billion the year before — making them the biggest spenders of all international tourists.
Economic Weapon

China has a history of wielding tourism as an economic weapon against other countries. In 2017, it banned package tours to South Korea in a show of dissatisfaction over deploying a U.S.-backed missile system. The ban shaved 0.4 percentage points off Korea’s economic growth that year.

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.

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.

Read more: Trump’s Next Trade War Target: Chinese Students at Elite Schools

The move will likely deepen the pressure already being felt by consumer and retail companies in the U.S. who’ve been traditionally reliant on big-spending Chinese tourists to prop up sales.

PVH Corp., the parent company of Tommy Hilfiger and Calvin Klein, plunged the most in a decade last week after trimming its revenue outlook. It blamed the escalating tariffs battle for causing anxiety for both American and Chinese shoppers.

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