Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon, the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, has provided the following answer to your written parliamentary question (HL8107):
Question by Lord Alton of Liverpool:
To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the advisory warning issued by the government of the United States on 14 September against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong; what assessment they have made of the risk to UK citizens travelling to those destinations of the government of China imposing “arbitrary detention and exit bans” (1) to compel cooperation with investigations, (2) to pressure family members to return to China from abroad, (3) to influence civil disputes, and (4) to “gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments”. (HL8107)
Tabled on: 15 September 2020
Lord Ahmad of Wimbledon:
We have taken note of the advisory warning to US citizens issued by the US Government on 14 September.
On 11 September, the FCDO amended the travel advice for mainland China to highlight the risk of arbitrary detention, including for British nationals. China’s authorities have under certain circumstances detained foreigners citing ‘endangering national security’. The advice explains that National Security is interpreted broadly and you may be detained without having intended to break the law. This change did not raise the level of our advice, but was made in order to clearly and factually reflect recent incidents.
FCDO Travel Advice also highlights the possibility of travel bans being imposed in mainland China on those suspected of committing a crime. If an individual is subject to detention or a travel ban, the level of assistance the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office can provide is set out in our publically available guidance ‘Support for British nationals abroad’. This includes raising individual cases with the Chinese authorities.
The FCDO travel advice for Hong Kong details the risks under the new National Security Law of mainland authorities detaining individuals under the terms of the law, with the maximum penalty of life imprisonment.