Monday, June 18, 2018

Beijing Is Holding U.S. Citizens ‘Hostage’ in China

Exit bans are a new tool in China’s global coercion campaign.

By Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian

In its ongoing campaign to extend its reach beyond its borders, the Chinese government has found a new form of leverage: American citizens in China.

Last year, Beijing prevented several U.S. citizens from leaving China, including a pregnant woman, according to email correspondence obtained by The Daily Beast. The total number of so-called exit bans placed on U.S. citizens in China is unknown, but at least two dozen cases have occurred within the past two years, according to one analyst’s estimate.

Chinese authorities typically target U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage for exit bans, usually in connection with an investigation. Sometimes, Beijing uses American citizens to try to coerce family members residing in the United States to return to China or to cooperate with Chinese authorities in investigations.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has championed a sweeping anti-corruption campaign with an international element, known as “Operation Fox Hunt,” aimed at pursuing Chinese citizens who have fled abroad after allegedly committing economic crimes. The United States does not have an extradition treaty with China and in the past has rarely cooperated with Chinese demands to repatriate Chinese citizens whom Beijing considers to be fugitives. Beijing has previously deployed undercover agents to the United States to coerce targets into returning to China, violating U.S. visa laws and prompting U.S. government indignation.

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Source: The Daily Beast

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