Beijing: In an unusual move, China on Tuesday issued a travel alert for its citizens visiting the US, warning them of harassment and public security issues in the country as bilateral ties touched a new low amid a spiralling trade war.
The warning came a day after China cautioned its students against going to the US for studies.
China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism on Tuesday issued the travel alert for Chinese tourists travelling to the United States which could hit the American travel industry badly.
Noting the frequent occurrence of shootings, robberies and theft in the United States recently, the ministry warned Chinese tourists to fully assess the risks of travelling to the US.
Chinese tourists are asked to learn about the information about the public security situation and related laws and regulations of tourist destinations, to raise safety awareness and step up precautions to stay safe, state-run Xinhua news agency reported. The travel alert is valid until the end of this year.
Last year, the number of Chinese tourists visiting the US fell for the first time in 15 years, after more than a decade of rapid growth, amid the trade friction between the two countries.
The two countries have been locked in an escalating conflict over trade for the past year. The conflict increased in recent months as Washington has tightened trade restrictions on Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.
Hopes for an imminent trade deal were shattered in May after the Trump administration more than doubled tariffs on USD 200 billion of Chinese imports and threatened additional duties.
Defending the travel alert, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told a media briefing here that "China made this decision in response to current circumstances".
Asked whether the measure which could hit US travel industry is part of the escalating trade war between the two countries, Geng said, "Chinese people travelling to the US encountered various difficulties during the entry and after entry. They were interrogated and harassed by law enforcing agencies. So it is only necessary for us to issue such a notice."
He said China had issued a similar warning to students and scholars. "They (US authorities) falsely claim that the Confucius Institute is a tool to exhort political influence. They falsely accuse Chinese scholars of espionage and harassed them," he said.
"For example, the US placed visa restrictions on many Chinese student scholars. They revoked some visas. Recently they revoked a 10 year-visa for Chinese scholar to the US," he said. "I would like to emphasise that we hold active attitude for normal people-to-people exchanges. But it should be based on mutual respect," he said.
China on Monday warned students and academics on the "risk" of studying in the United States, citing an uptick in visa denials and delays.
According to official data, about 4.58 million Chinese have gone abroad to study since 1998 and 3.22 million of them have returned. About 3.63 lakh Chinese students reported to have enrolled to study in the US last year.