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China is increasingly using exit bans to bar Americans from leaving (usatoday.com)
329 points by onetimemanytime 38 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 245 comments



I call it “crying wolf in reverse”: The problem with being a totalitarian state that falsely imprisons people on a regular basis is that you’ve lost all moral authority when it comes to arresting people for actual crimes. If you’ve falsified evidence, conducted show trials and made a mockery of rule of law before, why should anyone believe you when you say it’s a real crime this time?


> why should anyone believe you when you say it’s a real crime this time?

Because it does not matter to anybody. Saddam didn't have the WMDs, the evidence was manufactured. Did that fundamentally change anything with regards to the trustworthiness of US government & media when they claim some middle eastern country is developing/using WMDs?

On the international level, power matters. Political power, military power, economic power, not your reputation.


Here it has been used by some politicians, as an augment to stay out of a new illegal war in Iran. So I would say it has harmed US trustworthiness.


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Realpolitik

> politics or diplomacy based primarily on considerations of given circumstances and factors, rather than explicit ideological notions or moral and ethical premises


>Did that fundamentally change anything with regards to the trustworthiness of US government & media when they claim some middle eastern country is developing/using WMDs?

When was the last time that US used the WMDs excuse to drag allies into war?


The 2nd Gulf War - the US tried very hard to get more allies to join the war effort. Colin Powell's WMD presentation to the United Nations was part of the effort.

Very few people in international circles, especially those familiar with the Middle East believed it, which, unlike the 1st Gulf War, saw almost no support from our traditional allies.

The US media did a poor job of questioning the evidence. Late Night comedy probably did a better job - especially, questioning why so few allies were coming along for the ride.

For many people, it was around this time when they started trusting The Daily Show on Comedy Central more than they trusted Fox or CNN for their daily news.


Is Iraq not recent enough?


There was no war due to many reasons: Russia's involvement in Syria, Venezuela,etc because of the lesson of Iraq and Libya , and thanks Trump for firing Bolton, etc, etc. But there's no war doesn't mean the Western media don't lie (high order lies like this one). The journalists in West media lie all the time about the things happened in totalitarian regimes because the difficulty of verification. You don't see a lot of lies here but there are many snapshot of BBC/CNN lies capture by Chinese netizen. Westerners just don't know.


less than 20 years ago and that's very recent in war terms. the same (failed) excuse wont be used again because its always better to fabricate something new thats not related to the last one which turned out to be not true.


Let's be honest, they pivoted from WMD to the much larger and vaguer umbrella of "terrorist" or "terrorist supporter". This has allowed the USA and its allies to indiscriminately kill millions since the Iraq invasion (and rake in billions in weapons deals).

It's always funny when we ignore the mass murderer in the room and instead focus on China's quite measured response to crime.


In reverse because China is the wolf.


This is really bad since China doesn't have a working court system to fall back on:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2014/03/1...


They do have a very effective working court system. The question is who it works for.


It works for the politburo standing committee and Xi. The legal system are “stewards” for the Chinese government (according the white paper to Hong Kong).

Hence you find so many people in China vying for government jobs because if you climb high enough, the law is below you. That is very dangerous because the only accountability is the person on top.


I'd say it works very well for the communist party.


The working court systems of Canada and the US arrested the Huawei finance chief Meng Wanzhou, who just happens to be the daughter of the founder of Huawei.

That seemed like a very politically motivated arrest (she is still awaiting extradition): https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meng_Wanzhou

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46462858


She also happens to be the CFO of Huawei who (allegedly) personally lied to international banks to circumvent US export controls?

I'm not familiar with the court system in Canada, but criminal cases in the US take a long time. AFAIK Meng Wanzhou's delay is not unusual.


She will have a trial, we are pretty certain that ot will be fair. If the whole arrest was made frivolously she can sue and has great chance to get a rather big settlement.


Alternate title: China doesn't give carte blanche to foreign fraudsters and spies.

In context of Victor and Cynthia Lu, the siblings father is accused of embezzling 1.4 billion. From memory, millions of assets was put under their names in form of US real estate making them legally culpable. More importantly:

>The Chinese Foreign Ministry defended the holding of the three family members, saying: “The people you mentioned all own legal and valid identity documents as Chinese citizens. Because they are suspected of economic crimes, they are restricted from exiting the country by the Chinese police in accordance with the law.”

https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/25/us/politics/china-exit-ba...

China doesn't allow dual citizenship, Chinese nationals (including HKers) who naturalize abroad is suppose to renounce their Chinese citizenship. Many don't, choosing to travel on Chinese papers for expediency (no need for VISA) etc which subjects them to Chinese law. There's no extradition treaty to China which makes these dumb administration hacks backfire. The article also covered spouse of suspects arrested on suspicion of spying... which no shit justifies exit bans.

E: I think the greater story is that white expats in some countries no longer get preferential treatment due to trade war (US + Canada), and ex Chinese nationals are not safe from CPC reach just because they have a passport with no PRC extradition treaty, but especially if they're being dumb and travelling to China using Chinese papers they were suppose to renounce.


Some of these exit bans might be in the situation you describe, but other ones are not. US citizens, born in the us, who also never had chinese passports, who aren't under any known investigations have also been held back in exit bans. Also, holding someone's adult children because their father is suspected of something is never acceptable.

The fact that these bans are only becoming more frequent now with the trade war is evidence that they aren't just a neutral exercise.


>> US citizens, born in the us, who also never had chinese passports,

The simplistic American system of citizenship is not universal. Being born in a country does not always make one automatically a citizen of that country. So too does being born in country A not negate one's automatic citizenship in country B.

From the perspective of China, that a person was born in the US is immaterial. If they are born to Chinese parents then they are Chinese, especially when now standing inside China. This is why one should always talk to a lawyer before visiting "the old country" with kids born elsewhere.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chinese_nationality_law

Bigger horror story: First generation Iranian-Canadian family fly to Iran to introduce canadian-born grandchildren to Iranian-born grandparents. At airport for flight home. 19 years old? Male? born to Iranian parents? standing inside Iran? Have you done your military service?

Whether one can "disavow" a citizenship is a big question. Citizenship is not a hat. You cannot just move to Canada, marry a Canadian, and suddenly expect not to owe US taxes ... or not be drafted into a US war.


Sounds like there's not a lot of difference between "citizen" and "subject". The claims of ownership across generations for births that occurred elsewhere are the most astonishing part of this for me.


Then don't look into who can acquire Israeli citizenship. They are open to "all Jewish persons", both people born to jewish mothers and converts "who are not a member of another religion". So citizenship, or not, can turn on the specifics of religious faith and ritual. (Isreal is not alone in this, they are just the most western-leaning nation for whom religious dogma is used in determining citizenship.)


You've really got an axe to grind, don't you?

Israel GRANTS citizenship to people of Jewish ancestry. It doesn't claim ownership of them like China is doing in this scenario.


I think you're confusing the word "can" and "must". A Jew can become an Israeli citizen. The issue here is that many of these people are not choosing to be China's citizens and yet are considered such.


I did not use the word "can" or "must". Those are not my words.

I said Isreal was "open to" certain people, which is an accurate description of the policy. Where citizenship suitability is at issue, such as an asylum claim or immigration/visa application, religious factors then come into play. I made no mention of Israel claiming control or forcing citizenship on anyone.


So it's not like a "claim of ownership" to people and not relevant to the comment you replied to?


Did these people enter China with a visa? Many Chinese parents sign a document to give up foreign citizenship for their children on entrance into China, so their children don't need a visa, and can enjoy benefits like health care and free education in China. That's how China can claim their Chinese citizenship.


Happened to a friend of mine though it was Syria in that case(before the war, 2008~9). Guy was 20 and had never set foot in the country, wasn't really aware this was even a thing. Managed to get out of it after being detained for a few days through connections and lobbying but it was scary AF. Their military service is 2 years long...


Happened to a friend of mine in Austria, of all places. I can't remember exactly how he got out, but I think he might have left the airport and crossed the border to Hungary.


The point is not what the US believes citizenship to be. It is what rights do people have and what is the response of a civilized government to those rights?

A civilized government will protect the rights of its citizens. An uncivilized one believes that the citizens somehow belong to it and must do its bidding and be dependent upon it.

The CCP does not have the best interests of these people in mind - it only has its own interests in mind and is using these people as pawns.


>> An uncivilized one believes that the citizens somehow belong to it and must do its biddin

Those in glass houses: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Selective_Service_System

"All male U.S. citizens and male immigrant non-citizens, who are between the ages of 18 and 25 are required by law to have registered within 30 days of their 18th birthdays"


Registration! Scary! It's an index-sized paper form you fill out. That's it.

The draft isn't coming back and there has been no instance of it coming back in any capacity in over 50 years. So no glass houses here, thanks.


Also even if drafted after registration it was avoidable. You can be a conscientious objector. You can leave the country bc. in the us we don't check your Id when you leave, unlike China. You could go to Canada. And we don't draft people anymore but we do register them. There's a tiny tinge of comparison but it's not the same as holding your kids hostage if you are on the political outs.


During the Vietnam war, you could "go to Canada" basically only because Pierre Trudeau instructed the border guard to allow Americans who seemed like they might be draft dodgers to immigrate illegally. No guarantees there will be another arrangement like that next time.


Doesn't being a CO sometimes result in prison? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscientious_objector


> but other ones are not

But what are these others. The article's examples are: billion+ fraud, espionage, and political corruption by family members. The last one is optically the most senselessly punitive. Clearly political retaliations which I oppose. For financial crimes, in absence of extradition treaties, China's hands are tied, we shouldn't expect them to just allow mass fraud to go unanswered. Punishing billionaires, albeit with bias, is one of the few things China does partially right. Espionage rationalizes itself.

> holding someone's adult children because their father is suspected of something is never acceptable.

From NYT: >The couple sold the Arcadia home in 2004 and bought a house in a gated community in Armonk, N.Y., an affluent town, records show. The home was transferred to Cynthia Liu’s name in 2011 and sold in 2014 for almost $900,000.

There's shenanigans suggesting the kids were used to launder assets which makes them directly culpable. There's no telling how much of this is actually a family affair. They're not kids. They're adults who have benefited from embezzled money.

>aren't just a neutral exercise.

No they're not, Chinese law was never neutral when it comes to expats, but it's hard to feel sorry when western drug dealers or spies complain losing white privilege. The point is, China-US-Canadian relationships are cooling. If you have GOOD reason to be targeted by China, then don't go there. There are hundreds of thousands of expats in China, when some of them get arrested, the question should really be, why them in particular.


> billion+ fraud, espionage, and political corruption by family members

Detaining the estranged daughters of a suspected fraudster is not due process. It’s the sort of shenanigans that make Chinese courts the laughingstocks they are held to be.


How is this different than the US requiring passport surrender of a citizen charged with a crime along with their father?

The US doesn’t let dual citizens just fly away when charged, why should China?


> How is this different than the US requiring passport surrender of a citizen charged with a crime along with their father?

Source?

For your passport to be surrendered, you need to be charged with a crime. Being related to the accused isn’t a crime. (The black eye that is Guantanamo notwithstanding.)

More critically, many of these people have been charged with nothing. No process is pending. They are held with no next steps. There is simply no analog for this behaviour in countries with the rule of law, whether that be Taiwan or Japan or Germany or the United States.


How does one mention Gitmo and forget about it in the very next sentence???


> How does one mention Gitmo and forget about it in the very next sentence?

One doesn’t. Gitmo is a black eye on our judicial system.

But there is a difference between a widely-debated exception and a generally-accepted baseline. Gitmo is abnormal in America. It is a baseline for Xi’s regime.


Excellent point. It's horrible and needs to become regular court based but it's an exception, not the standard. I still hate that it happens in my country.


By noting that gitmo is legally controversial, has a bunch of asterisks next to what can happen there (afaik they cannot send people on US soil there), and it's been used on a grand total of 800 "enemy combatants" In the last 20 years.

It is in every sense an anomaly, and is not even remotely comparable to what is discussed here.


Are they charged with a crime?

Due process would be served if they are being charged.

TBC, it’s not like all the people in gitmo got their due process but still, either charge the kids or* let them go.


My understanding is that SCOTUS has found gitmo prisoners to have a right to due process in Federal courts.


If China has evidence that these young adults were complicit in crimes, why haven't they been charged with these crimes?

China doesn't have an in independent judiciary. This is the country that stole Micron's chip design, then found Micron guilty of infringing on its own design (manufactured by a Chinese company). China is a clearly a country capable of inventing crimes for its political opponents when it sees fit.


Chinese forecasts always seem to assume a slow march in a particular direction.

What happens if cooling becomes a rapid heat up in tensions?

The US is unpredictable and has always flourished when the world is in chaos. Good luck predicting when and how and who decides it is time to go over the waterfall


Are they becoming more frequent or is the press mentioning them more often? Citations needed.


>The article also covered spouse of suspects arrested on suspicion of spying... which no shit justifies exit bans.

As a Westerner I have a lot of trouble understanding how you can consider what you just wrote as obvious. Could you describe your thinking about this more? I know you said it's obvious but I don't get why.


It’s right there in the sentence you quoted (albeit awkwardly written)! The spouse is also suspected of spying!

Do you think the Chinese are idiots? Or that we don’t do the same??


Do you consider the exit ban placed on Huawei's CFO as obvious?


She's been indicted and is subject to an extradition proceeding in a court of law. What legal process is this guy's spouse subject to that prevents her from leaving?


Ah sorry I misread


When I read this reply I thought you said "Huawei's CFO's spouse" (since my question was about spouses or family members) and I was shocked and didn't know what you were talking about, I certainly didn't know that happened, couldn't think of any reason for that to happen or for it to be obvious it should/would happen. Then I realized you didn't say spouse. I am asking about the spouse part!

Can you tell me more of the parent poster's thinking? They implied it's really obvious, so I'd like to understand it.

I realize you think it's obvious but I don't understand it and can't imagine what you and the other poster mean. Could you put it into words?


I can't find corroboration for most of that. Per the Times story, the younger sibling was born in the US. None of the sources for this story seem to indicate that these two were travelling on PRC passports or otherwise in the country as citizens. Nor is there any claim of espionage on their part.

I mean, the arc of your claim (that this is just fallout of an otherwise legitimate crime investigation and not a deliberate punishment for these kids or the US in particualr) is probably true. But still, fabricating arguments against them doesn't make it OK for them to be held against international law.


There's no espionage claims, I think it's purely over economic crime. I don't know if they're complicit, their parents may have moved laundered assets under their name without their knowledge. I'm not even sure if their detainment is for the purpose of investigate, coercion or they're merely being made an example of to others.

As for Chinese papers, this is speculation territory but with some personal knowledge. You can buy Chinese identities, there's a market for it. I know people who previously revoked their PRC citizenship but later acquired a dead persons identity to buy property and start business in mainland among other perks.


> I'm not even sure if their detainment is for the purpose of investigate, cohesion or they're merely being made an example of to others.

This is the crux of the problem. We have no idea whether they are legitimately being investigated, or if they are innocent people being held in the country to apply pressure on someone else.

A low-level employee who travels to the PRC for work might end up in the same situation if his company faces accusations, and anyone who travels to the PRC, or an HK citizen who might face extradition for trial in the near future, needs to be aware of this.


Punishing relatives for the crimes of family members is barbaric. I’d be surprised to see anyone at HN defending this sort of legal system.


>I’d be surprised to see anyone at HN defending this sort of legal system.

Not surprising at all if you check his comment history.


It looks like OP has different experiences that let’s them see the situation more clearly.


Wait, why should the spouse of a spy be subject to an exit ban?


Because China doesn't believe in individualism. You are defined by your party affiliation, friends, family, race (Han vs non-Han), and skin color (brown/"dirty"脏 Asian vs white Asian).


This is underrated comment.

Mainlanders firmly believe in collectivism; whereas, western audiences in individuality.

Therefore, Chinese people believe it is okay to kill a person to save the group. Whereas, other countries do not.

Mainlanders think that is being selfish.


Actually, it's more of a conformist than collectivist society. The misconception comes from studies done in China regarding collectivism vs individualism in the 80s and 90s, that were 'Margaret Mead'ed: sitting people down in a formal classroom to take a test being administered by scientists with government permission didn't have the same effect in China and the western countries it was being compared to.

Collectivism is commonly seen as a valuable presentation in conformism-driven social environments.

http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=10.1.1.561...


This isn't killing sometime to save a group, though. This is guilt by association. And it isn't even that (that's just the dishonest justification), it's just a shady hope that by detaining this fraudster's incident offspring, they can lure him back to China to arrest him. It's disgusting and reprehensible.


I don't think the government thinks the kids are guilty, I think the parent is implying something even worse: that they'd be willing to essentially throw these innocent kids under a bus to arrest the parents.


No, I definitely got that (and apparently mistyped "innocent" as "incident"). The issue isn't that I object to "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few". I think that is appropriate in some situations. But this doesn't feel like that; arresting this guy won't go and help or save a bunch of people. It's just revenge, and they're throwing the likely-innocent kids under the bus to get it.


Again you have your individualist lens on and you are judging the situation purely based on that moral framework.


I don't think I am.

The idea of prioritizing collective good means that it's ok to sacrifice one (or more) people if even more people will benefit from that action by a certain threshold amount.

This... isn't that. Arresting this guy won't help or save a bunch of people. The government just wants revenge for his financial crimes, and they're unethically using his kids to try to get it.


Other countries will make up terms like “collateral damage” when they drone strike a wedding just to kill one target.


Mainlanders believe that progress requires unity and sometimes it's okay that progress or unity costs lives.


1. There’s a good chance they have information relevant to the spying.

2. To get leverage on the spy.

3. To send a message to other spies and spouses.

Those are three common-sense reasons I can think of. I’m sure there are a dozen others.


Sounds more like how the mafia operates than a legal system.


For the same reason the spouse would be taken in, questioned, and possibly passport taken away in the US - to ensure the spouse doesn’t know anything of interest to investigators.

I mean, let’s not be daft. If Snowden hadn’t shielded his g/f as well as he did, Ms. Mills would have never been allowed to leave the US.

She either would have been charged with espionage, or for breaking one of the innumerable laws we all break in a daily basis.


The US hasn’t held the spouses or children of any Chinese people accused or convicted Of spying. Please stop with the obviously false claims.


Consider it being put on the No Fly List.

You don’t have to be charged to be put on it.


> For the same reason the spouse would be taken in, questioned, and possibly passport taken away in the US

Only if that person is actually charged with a crime, has due process.

This isn't about that. This is about China not charging someone with a crime, and not giving them due process.

If you want to take away someone's passport, then you should charge them with a crime first.


Your post doesn't cover all the cases where there is no valid reason for this ban on people who did nothing wrong and are just being denied because of the trade war.


Do you have examples?


I agree, there was a big story about China'a arrest of an Indian business man, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-india-16381464

Years later it turned out he was one of the main scammers in Dubai https://gulfnews.com/uae/expose-trading-scam-masterminds-unm...


Despite your attempts to dress them up as being somehow "legally culpable" they have been charged with no crimes despite being detained for more than a year.

Their mistake was traveling to a totalitarian communist dictatorship and expecting not to be at risk of arbitrary detention.


Remember the case of the German engineer who was arrested in Florida while trying to return home after his vacation?

https://www.heraldtribune.com/news/20171206/vw-executive-arr...


...who was complicit in a billion dollar fraud in the US. How is that comparable, exactly?


Because those siblings are believed to be complicit in a billion dollar fraud.


Hardly works as a counterpoint, because doesn't satisfy what the original commenter said: "Despite your attempts to dress them up as being somehow "legally culpable" they have been charged with no crimes despite being detained for more than a year."


wouldn't an equivalent counterpoint then be to ship them to Guantanamo?


and waterboard them there while saying publicly you remain committed to human rights -> despite never charging them?


Yeah that 19 year old Georgetown undergrad was definitely complicit in a billion dollar fraud that happened when he was 10.


Are they charged with a crime?

The answer is no. They have not been charged with any crimes.


So the siblings did it!

You nailed the jackpot

/s


You mean the one who was charged with an actual crime and had a fair trial and due process of law?


China has to walk a tightrope where if they're too humane they're accused of randomly treating arbitrary innocent bystanders like criminals, and on the other extreme they'd be letting co-conspirators walk free.

They seem to be taking a sensible path down the middle? Lets be realistic, the kids aren't significant co conspirators if the dollar values of the supposed identity thefts or conspiracies are really small compared to the whole (at least... as far as the authorities can publicly announce, LOL, maybe they are in deeper than they can announce), and you can't expect relatives to testify or cooperate against each other reliably anyway. On the other hand they're literally members of a "crime family" and if this happened to mafia members, people would not be overly surprised to hear semi-clean conspirators are having a rough time with the law.

Much like "anyone can sue anyone for anything at any time", arbitrary detention is hardly limited to one specific country or political system. I'm sure Assange, Snowden, and the prisoners of Guantanamo Bay would beg to differ with your opinion.


> China has to walk a tightrope where if they're too [harsh] they're accused of randomly treating arbitrary innocent bystanders like criminals, and on the other extreme they'd be letting co-conspirators walk free.

Is this not a tight rope that every single country walks? What's being described above doesn't sound very middle road to me. Though I prefer that when systems fail criminals go free vs innocent lose their freedom (Blackstone's Formulation).


It is, and while Blackstone's Formulation is foundational in western legal systems, I also acknowledge that other countries may choose different lines to draw. At the very least it's a grand experiment into what works the best.


> At the very least it's a grand experiment into what works the best.

I really hate this phrase. Because implicitly it is using the wrong metric. So far we've seen the democracy, free speech, and advancement actually compliment one another. But we're at a turning point. We're already redefining what advancement means. Does it mean most powerful? Being able to feed and provide basic needs to everyone? Most scientific? Richest? Most humane? Historically most of these just correlated with wealth, so that metric became the target. But we're getting to the point where you can have many of those things without wealth, simply because they are so cheap. And soon they will be trivial cheap.

So a grand experiment into what? I think we had a good metric before but it isn't so clear anymore.


> China has to walk a tightrope where if they're too humane they're accused of randomly treating arbitrary innocent bystanders like criminals

What do you mean by this? Why would being too humane cause accusations of arbitrarily treating people like criminals?


Haha, Spot on :)


so capitalist democracies never detain people for a year without charges?


First, they shouldn't. Second we do have the rule of law which can get them out and get them penalties. There's one significant exception for the US, and it's has besmirched our reputation, perhaps forever. We have the situation where people are held for life in Guantanamo Cuba at a US military base, accused of being terrorists related to 9/11 and they don't have access to the us judicial system generally. There were many people held there who were found only after years of time to not have been terrorists. Then don't forget the cia tortured people on our behalf too.

This was wrong. It doesn't excuse what China is doing.


> This was wrong. It doesn't excuse what China is doing.

Unless, of course, you are still doing it.


No, someone else doing a bad thing doesn't make doing that bad thing okay.


Er no: if the largest, most powerful country on earth - with the most amount of allies and friendly trading partners is doing something and is getting away with it, then - by definition - it acceptable to the 'norms of the times'.

Which means others can do it to.


I think what's happening here is a difference in how we view our governments.

In the West, and especially in America, we don't highly internalize "being American" (insert country). A lot of us just think of it as a circumstances. And right now there's a lot of distaste for what the government does. You'll probably find that most of the people are upset at their own country about exactly what you're upset about what America does (I know I am, and it looks like the parent does too. At least in the specific example).

We don't always condone what the government does. We don't see that as "us" but "them". You'll see many people speaking out against the government here when they do things we don't like (that's democracy in action. The belief that governments need to be put in check). So when we don't like something we try to get it changed, and this frequently works. More often than not actually, and the nots are usually that it takes longer than we want.

So an American won't see themselves as a hypocrite for calling out a country for doing something that America does if they also disagree that America does it. We just don't see our government in that way.

Edit: The parent is also making reference to a phrase that most of our mothers taught us: "just because everyone else is doing it doesn't make it right" (or some variation)


These are dubious claims considering the rise of populist leaders in various western democracies. It’s also annoying to see westerners comment on how “those” people think politically. Chat with any Chinese taxi (well, didi) driver for a bit and you’ll hear plenty of complaints and the occasional wild conspiracy theory, although they’re obviously careful not to go too far for their own good (didi started recording audio for passenger safety reasons).

This dissociation from government is also just generally disingenuous. You reap the benefits of all these policies you are supposedly against, and get to feel good about yourself because “well, I didn’t condone it”. Is this really any different from a Chinese police officer saying “I was just following orders”?


In your complaint you even note the difference, so I'm a little confused.

> although [Didi drivers are] obviously careful not to go too far for their own good

I don't think any Westerner seriously feels that they could be jailed for anything short of telling some official that they're going to kill the president or some major leader. Person to person, you can say whatever. As much as I don't like the NSA's overreach I don't think they are listening or don't bother themselves with these acts (one of the two has to be true given the last decade).

So I'd say that's one big difference.

You're also talking about a time when America has record distaste and distrust for their politicians and president. It wasn't always like this and I think your argument would be fine if the majority of people supported the state, but that's just currently not the case.

> You reap the benefits of all these policies you are supposedly against

How do I not? Seriously. I didn't choose to be born in this country. I can't just not reap the benefits. There is no method for me to pick and choose my benefits based on my personal beliefs. So I'm not sure what you expect me to do. There's no country I can move to that is doing significantly better. The only action I can see is to attempt to change what is happening here. But if you see more that I can do I would appreciate the advice (I'm serious). I'm not resigning to my "fate". A defeatist attitude is a step backwards.

> Is this really any different from a Chinese police officer saying “I was just following orders”?

Yes. I'm not sure why you think the populous is the same as state actors (police). They are different entities. Also, "just following orders" isn't an excuse in the military, let alone international law. It doesn't hold up here in America. You can go to jail for committing crimes that you were ordered to commit. Doesn't matter if you're the head of the military following the president's orders (you may notice that generals do ignore presidential orders, see the Muller report) or a police officer following the chief. Authorization does not protect you in a court of law.


> So I'm not sure what you expect me to do. There's no country I can move to that is doing significantly better. The only action I can see is to attempt to change what is happening here.

The difference is that in the western world, you're allowed to make as much of stink as you possibly can about the system you disagree with. Surely, you'll meet opposition, but you and your family aren't going to be whisked away to a secret prison because you disagree with a particularly powerful person or political party.


> we don't highly internalize "being American"

True for a subset of people but drive out to the red states and that is definitely not true.


I used to live in a red state. Deep red. I learned a lot while there, having grown up in the deep blue. We're all talking past one another because we all make assumptions about the other side that just aren't true. So if you're in the deep blue, drive out and have a beer with the reds. But listen, don't fight. Conversely if you're in the deep red, do the same. You'll be surprised how much everyone agrees on things. The differences are how to reach the goals. But we're too caught up in being morally superior and winning.


No, it does not make it okay. If it is morally questionable, then no matter who does it, it remains so.


Actually no, allow me to give you another example:

Most folk on HN would agree that discriminating on race is a no-no. But that is exactly what our constructs called nation-states do at their borders (Go ahead an try travelling as a Swiss national and then again as a Sudanese).

I think this is reprehensible and I suspect others will one day too. Right now - its not even discussed. Hence 'acceptable to the norms of the times'.

And here's the rub: not only am I considered a naive quack on this issue, but it would be quickly pointed out when a nation state with strict border visa requirements told of another state for doing the same.

You need to work through your assumptions more.


You're starting to make less sense the more you reply, sorry.

> Most folk on HN would agree that discriminating on race is a no-no. But that is exactly what our constructs called nation-states do at their borders

And? The point is that people are not their government. They disagree with what they govt is doing and speak out. What's your point exactly?

Again, your bad actions are not justified by the bad actions of others. I think you need to work through your logic, otherwise, you might end up justifying murder because.. well... people do it, right?


I am not entirely sure, but I believe what you are referring to is double standard, and/or being inconsistent. Is this correct? If so, then I agree that - unfortunately - it happens a lot. If X does A, it is fine, but if Y does A, then it is not fine. Yes, I know, this happens, but this does not make A any less wrong if one is consistent about it.


It loses its authority when X is never called to stop doing A.


They aren't supposed to. Which is why when it happens a lot of people speak out against it. I mean there's still plenty of talk about gitmo (which I'd also put suspected terrorists as a different level than suspected fraudsters). There's even politicians that have talking points of shutting it down because the people aren't happy.

In the West we openly complain when our government is doing things that we don't like and doesn't align with our personal beliefs. But like all countries, China included, we do have internal propoganda that causes people to be quiet about or support things against their own interests and beliefs.

It really isn't just so simple and can't be boiled down to a "got you" phrase. But neither is China (and I'm happy to so the "got you" remark in this thread about China is also down voted).


Great summary. Thanks for your bravery!

Most readers who have the knowledge about China instantly know the author is misleading audience by put up half truth and remove important relevant context. But those readers might not dare to speak out because it would be heavily down voted because truth doesn't match the popular belief that Chinese government is an evil authoritarian regime. It's sad that quite large portion of population still can not differentiate facts and their own belief. HNer's are already much better than other online communities.


China's place in the world as an evil authoritarian regime isn't seriously debated by anyone who has read even a little history.

It's not a "belief", it's fact. Mao killed 45 million people.


Real life is not a fantasy novel, it's far too complex to reduce down to good and evil, despite the temptations.

Our founding fathers would probably be considered terrorists to the Crown.


Our founding fathers didn't murder 45 million people.


Plenty of people were living on this land before europeans arrived.

Edit: to elaborate, if you asked them who was more evil, you'd get different answers. Trevor Noah has a great section on this in his book about an upbringing in South Africa:

> “The name Hitler does not offend a black South African because Hitler is not the worst thing a black South African can imagine. Every country thinks their history is the most important, and that’s especially true in the West. But if black South Africans could go back in time and kill one person, Cecil Rhodes would come up before Hitler. If people in the Congo could go back in time and kill one person, Belgium’s King Leopold would come way before Hitler. If Native Americans could go back in time and kill one person, it would probably be Christopher Columbus or Andrew Jackson. ”


And Washington was a big player in the Native American genocide. While Churchill’s actions led to the Indian famine, resulting in millions of deaths.

If we are going to judge a country by its history, then no country is “good.”


You're playing whataboutism. Whether or not everyone else is perfect is not relevant to the statement I made. China has clearly and unapologetically established its place in the world.


> The article also covered spouse of suspects arrested on suspicion of spying... which no shit justifies exit bans.

So mere association is the justification for the spouse's exit ban?



Most Americans have forgotten that the first rule of international travel is not to overtly fuck with totalitarian regimes.

With the unipolar world of the last thirty years coming to a messy end, that's a lesson we're going to have internalize again. Be humble, be careful with the risks you take abroad, and steer clear of overtly dangerous places.


The basic idea is to not fuck with any local system/law/culture if you're abroad.


I don't agree with the word "any" here. There's nothing wrong with taking a disruptive approach to oppression when you witness it, but calculating your position relative to the system/law/culture so that you are able to live freely to act justly another day - that can be the tricky part.

I remember seeing hotel staff act in an overtly and disgustingly racist way in Cape Town, South Africa. As a tourist, hotel guest, American, and white person, I knew that I had all of the systemic privilege on my side. So I had no problem assisting the underprivileged people in that situation.

Now, with a powerful totalitarian system like China, it might be a different calculation.


If you are taking a disruptive approach to the government (at any level) of a place you are traveling, you should expect to have a high risk of getting arrested, and not necessarily being given a fair trial. If you are morally so opposed to the situation that you believe this to be a sacrifice worth making, ok then. But you shouldn't be surprised when it happens.

Also, it is not too hard to imagine a foreigner's "disruptive behavior" backfiring in terms of the impact on the locals' attitude towards the policy in question. Knowing whether or not your disruptive behavior will be a useful prod to change, or provoke a backlash against foreign meddling that actually reinforces the system in question, takes a lot of nuanced knowledge of the local society, which a foreigner will usually not have.


That's a great thing you've done in Cape Town. I remember reading Trevor Noah's book where he talks about how his father challenged Apartheid with his integrated restaurant, but ultimately got shut down by government inspectors making impossible hoops for him to jump through.


I actually still keep in touch with two of the guys who were being treated unfairly. It was a crazy situation, but not without a touch of comedy. I need to write about it sometime.


It's probably safe to say this applies to most westerners, and not just limited to totalitarian regimes, but developing countries in general. I woudln't say it's the majority, but a lot of people seem to run around there thinking they're great white saviors with infinite wisdom.


>Be humble, be careful with the risks you take abroad, and steer clear of overtly dangerous places.

That advice wouldn't have helped the americans in the article.


If you read it "Don't travel to China" it would have.


Wow when did appeasement become something americans should be ok with. Why are you so ok with that being the world we live in. Tip toeing around monsters instead of pushing them out of the world stage.


True.

But most Americans don't fuck with DPRK even if for some reason they decide to travel there. The core of the problem is they underestimate how "totalitarian" China is.


that pretty obvious tbh


I recently had an opportunity to go work in China for 6 months and declined for this reason (and others.)


I think you're probably going to be ok if you aren't related to anyone wanted by the Chinese government. I'm not trying to downplay the severity of what they're doing by holding people as bargaining chips, but a random person should be safe. Unless you get framed for something, which is entirely possible. Or you simply piss off the wrong person.


Sorry, but this seems to be a naive view.

China is known to arrest people and/or grant extreme sentences in retaliation for things going on in world politics.

Recently China has been executing Canadians in retaliation for an arrest of a Chinese citizen at the request of the United States.[1]

Many people view these arrests at retaliation.

[1] https://www.cnn.com/2019/01/15/china/china-canada-executions...


I hate how arguing about this makes me look like a shill, but here goes:

Do you think that he's innocent? If not, then I don't see what this has to do with my post.

Going further, you're implying that China is giving excessive punishments to foreigners due to geopolitical relations.

You are omitting that China isn't treating this specific example more harshly than they would treat a Chinese citizen (who can't buy their way out with money and/or influence). They are being given equal treatment.

The article even says that foreigners are typically treated favorably compared to locals. I do agree that the relaxation of this favorable treatment is related to world politics, but the way your post is framed is disingenuous.

I don't think my original post needs an explicit explanation that a random foreigner being ok in China assumes that you don't commit an obvious crime that would result in, at the very least, prison time or deportation in nearly any other country that won't let you bribe your way out.


Sepentza and Laowhy86 (two youtubers that bike around China) have recently moved out of China due to worsening treatment of foriegners.

If you don't have local family connections advocating for you, as a foriegner you will end up with worse outcomes when interacting with the police or passport system (they've done a few videos on their run-ins with the Chinese legal system).


It's also getting more expensive in China and they've mentioned that they can't work in China anymore (and have been relying on their videos as their sources of income). I'm not sure if that's because they changed from having work visas to marriage visas or because they are on tourist ones, but they both had a lot of work experience in China.


I've heard similar things from my contacts working abroad, a lot more immigration hoops in the past year since the trade war.


From what I’ve gathered, it’s not because it’s becoming more hostile, but rather they are no longer getting any privileges because of the complexion.

“If you're accustomed to privilege, equality feels like oppression.”


Outside of the availability of White Monkey jobs (which has dried up recently) niether led a very priveledged life in China. Property ownership was not possible, getting a WeChat, employment and phone # was tough, and they were often ripped off due to being foriegners.

Chinese nationalism has been promoted much more by the CCP over he last 2 years and has turned public sentiment against foriegners pretty severely.


So drug offences are in china punishable by death. Previously, I think China was a lot more leniant on westerners committing such offences; they held them for a bit, then sent them home and banned them from reentering.

Here, they decided to enforce the law fully. You can argue it's unfair because the attitude of the state has changed and likely because of geopolitics. But from my point of view, the death penalty for drug offences was always a risk, so you're on your own if you decide to do stuff like that anyway.

So the tl;dr is, white westerners no longer get a free pass in foreign country.


This is one of the issues with selective/discretional enforcement of laws.

The original oppressive law is ignored, because "it's usually not enforced/used."

And then whether it is used for oppression just comes down to whether the powers that be decide you need oppressing.

Indeed, it's one of the criticisms of the war on drugs: that enforcement was tilted towards people that law enforcement, for one reason or another, didn't like (e.g. skin color).


Can't really believe someone is actually supporting the death penalty for minor drug offenses as a good place to start with proving their point.


Not saying he should have been executed, but smuggling 500 pounds of meth is not a minor offense.


That will get you executed in Singapore, though the process for that happening is better understood.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:SingaporeEmbarkationCard....


> Can't really believe someone is actually supporting the death penalty for minor drug offenses

I don't think there was anything in my post that could indicate that...

I personally wouldn't have the death penalty for drug offences. But there are many countries that do, and if that's the law, then you must follow it. Even more so if you are a guest of that country and not a citizen.


I don't really mind that people are getting punished for drug offences, but a scenario where someone is framed for it concerns me.


China is a very safe country for Western people to visit. And if something happens to a Westerner authorities often go the extra mile to help.

On the other hand, drug trafficking is punishable by death in China. If anything China has tended to be more lenient to Westerners convicted of drug trafficking compared to its own citizens.

They are welcoming but they expect respect and no involvement in politics.


In order words, they expect “politics to play”. Which is exactly what an authoritarian country would expect.

I think a lot of people would be uncomfortable with that idea. Which is fine as long as they don’t step into China.

However, as China grows stronger everyday, they are starting to expect other countries to toe the line as well. That's the problem I have.


Can you name anything that the CCP would think is not political? They are great at making up excuses after the fact to justify what they do. If for whatever reason they want to arrest you, you can be sure they will have an excuse for it.

What's the excuse for harvesting organs for political prisoners? Were they "asking for it"? A country that is run by people like this is not safe to visit.

https://chinatribunal.com/china-tribunal-final-judgement-and...


The reality is, obviously, that they do not want to arrest Western visitors. In fact they want Western visitors to get the best opinion of the country possible and go home telling every one how great China is.

I fully agree: China is not a democratic country, and there is no independent judiciary, and crossing the wrong people while there is a bad idea (is there a country where it's a good idea, though?)

But let's not claim that it is dangerous to visit or even to move to for work. It is very safe.


"No involvement in politics" is a very high barrier to cross for a lot of westerners. I would not want to personally test if retweets supporting Tibetan freedom counts as "political involvement".


How is it a high barrier?

You're a visitor in a foreign country. Whatever your opinions are I think it is not too difficult to refrain from being involved in politics or sensitive issues.

It's common sense of travelling to a foreign land, really.


It is common sense when travelling to a foreign land that punishes speech. I have been asked about politics pretty much in every European nation I've visited or resided in. It's not unusual to talk politics or disagree, and at worst you should end up leaving a bad impression on someone, not end up in prison.


Note that I wrote "being involved" in politics, which is quite different from what you describe in your comment. I don't think it is common for visitors to European countries to take part in local political demonstrations, for example.

Foreigners in China who end up in trouble are those who show up with a large Tibetan flag in public, not those who say that they disagree with the Chinese government (though it helps to be polite and respectful when saying it, which is, again, common sense).

> It's not unusual to talk politics or disagree, and at worst you should end up leaving a bad impression on someone

Which is what would happen in China. You wouldn't end up in prison...


> I don't think it is common for visitors to European countries to take part in local political demonstrations

Nobody gets punished for participating in local demonstrations in Europe.

That's ridiculous.

I could absolutely go to the UK and bring a pro brexit, or anti brexit flag, and be totally fine.


That's beside the point...

The point is that as a Western visitor to China you would only risk being "punished" by doing explicit things that foreign visitors to any country usually don't do.

There is no practical point in discussing what you could or couldn't do if you never did it and never thought of doing it anyway.

So, yes, in Europe you could freely join a demonstration while in China it would not be a good idea. Does it make any practical difference to you as a foreign visitor? No, because that's not something you would do anyway, and if you did, well, you would probably knew the risks.


It is not besides the point. I went to the UK not too long ago, and visited both some of the brexit and anti-brexit rallies. It was pretty interesting.

I also visited France some couple months ago, and in Paris I had no qualms about seeing what was going on with some of the protests there.

This stuff is perfectly OK and normal. There is nothing wrong with that.

> if you never did it and never thought of doing it anyway.

But I did do it.... It was fun to check out what some of the protesters were doing. Why is it so weird and surprising for someone to check out a brexit rally? Lol. I'd imagine that many tourists did that.

> Does it make any practical difference to you as a foreign visitor?

Yes it does! Do you honestly believe that tourists in the UK aren't going around making brexit jokes all the time, and maybe even seeing what some of the protesters are doing? Of course they are doing this. It is a cool touristy thing to do to check out current events, related to local politics!


"Not too difficult" is not a good way to justify it.

Try using this justification against something with which you agree. You should immediately realize that just because X is not too difficult to do, does not necessarily justify the consequences of doing X. An example: it is not too difficult to not voice our concerns regarding brutality, does not mean we should keep quiet about it.


Do foreign visitors in Paris feel the need to take part in the Yellow vest protests or to show their support/opposition to them? No.

The assumption here that foreign visitors in China feel an urge to become political activists as soon as they disembark their plane or that the political situation in China makes any difference to Western visitors is disingenuous.

I am not trying to justify Chinese policies. I am just saying that claiming that China is a risky place to visit for a Westerner is FUD and does not depict the reality.


Ah, OK, in that case disregard my comment. Just to clarify, I was not disagreeing with you, just assumed that you used "not too difficult to do X" as some sort of a justification. If this is not the case, then I apologize.


> Do foreign visitors in Paris feel the need to take part in the Yellow vest protests or to show their support/opposition to them?

I'd absolutely would feel perfectly fine doing this myself, or seeing other foreigners do this.

Good for them, if people want to go to Paris and participate in the yellow vest protests.


Facebook, Google and Wikipedia are banned in China, and many other sites. Accessing them as w means breaking the law. Since the censorship is mostly for political reasons, accessing those sites illegally would embroil you in a sensitive issue.

I guess for most foreigners, it would be very difficult from refraining to visit those sites


This is an amusing take. Nobody cares if you (as a foreign tourist) go to those sites, in fact if you’re on T-Mobile roaming or in a hotel that caters to westerners, you don’t go through the firewall at all.


I was surprised that you can buy sim cards in HK which are completely uncensored and use them in mainland china, using the same exact networks too (so no slow roaming speeds).


Censorship isn't for you per say. Its for the general population.

They could care less if a foreigner comes here for a few months and then leaves. It won't affect them.


I seriously doubt you would end up in an australian prison because, as a foreign individual, you said you didn't like the current australian prime minister.


Come on. People retweet political things without really thinking about it all the time. I travel to "foreign land" ask the time and don't have anything to fear for my expressions of political opinion because most Western countries protect freedom of expression. As someone who believes in democracy and classic liberalism, I think it is too much to expect.

Saying "it's China, it's a different culture" doesn't make oppression better.


"Come on, people chew gum all the time... saying it's Singapore doesn't make the oppression better"

"Come on, people smoke weed all the time... saying it's Arkansas doesn't make the oppression better"

"Come on, people walk around naked on beaches all the time... saying it's Saudi Arabia doesn't make the oppression better"

Different places, different cultures, different rules. On the plus side, there's no place like home, wherever that is.


one hell of an appeal:

"Initially, Schellenberg was seemingly the recipient of such leniency. On November 20, he was sentenced to 15 years in prison for being an accessory to drug smuggling. But he appealed his conviction and at his retrial this week -- more than a month after top Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Vancouver, accused by the United States of helping cover up violations of sanctions on Iran -- he was convicted of a primary role in the smuggling and was sentenced to death."


I would suggest that in general, avoid8’g countries that have both questionable legal systems and the death penalty for things one would consider normal in their home country. This would encompass much of the Middle East but exclude Singapore, for example. It is unfair to single out China in this case, and, “Canadians” is a single person here, not even two.


>Or you simply piss off the wrong person.

This can be hard to avoid. For example, let’s say you get caught in a “tea room” scam. That’s where you meet a couple of attractive locals who invite you to a tea room, only when the bill comes it’s astronomically higher than you expected. Your new “friends” and the owners of the establishment are in cahoots. What do you do? If you say you won’t pay and the owners make a scene, it’s entirely possible that a crowd forms, someone shouts “That foreigner said Chinese people are trash!”, and now you’re sitting in a Chinese jail with lumps on your head and criminal charges.

Or maybe a drunk harasses you, and the same thing happens. Or you get into a fender bender with some friend of a Party member. And so on.

If you are a foreigner in China and get involved in a legal dispute, it will probably not go well for you. There is no independent judiciary. Your freedom would be subject to the Party’s political needs.

Some firsthand accounts (ignore the clickbait titles/thumbnails, they’re just playing the YouTube algorithm game):

https://youtube.com/watch?v=1V1Tiavb5GE

https://youtube.com/watch?v=h_2FHnYfzBg


Don't know why this is being downvoted. This is known to happen, just ask any ex-pat in the community.

If you visit china and you're someone they may not like or have a reason to be targeted(even for monetary gain) use extreme caution. People should be aware of this.


For what value of 'probably' would you want to sit it out? Personally you couldn't pay me to go to places that do not have functional courts.


They exit ban foreigners for unpaid debts. Apparently this extremely common


Or your company becomes involved in a conflict, making you a pawn. It ain't worth it.


This. If you're some some random scrub going to China, the government isn't going to bat an eye if you enter the country. Thousands of American citizens go to and from China every day. Detaining you for no reason is not what they're looking for.


If you have beard, if you look middle eastern (a bit dark skinned like from south Europe, may be Afro-European from south USA), originnaly from middle east (doesn't matter if you are rised and having western citizenship), having Turkic name (because of Uygurs), holding Turkish citizenship, looking suspicius, having pro Hong Kong ot pro Tibetian opinions you will be questioned by police, and you will have hard time finding hotels.

For example this guy cannot find otel because he has Turkish citizenship. https://youtu.be/2SvHsU7jwwk also he is being questioned every time when he is being noticed by police.


I'm not saying this doesn't happen, but it's certainly not the norm.

I have a beard, and pro-HK and pro-Tibetan opinions. I've visited various places in China several times - never had any issues. The customs/immigration officials are friendly, just the same as they are everywhere (except the US!). The few interactions I've had with the police were also friendly, just the same as I'd expect everywhere (except the US!).


I'm guessing you're not brown. Key qualifier.


> Or you simply piss off the wrong person.

I tend to do this regularly, so that was the other reason ;-)


[flagged]


It's not so much this as it is I am a person who absulotely needs freedom of expression and China is a place where that is highly regulated. I wouldn't survive long.


Not sure what exactly you mean by that but it's not like someone is monitoring all the conversations you have. You can say a lot before anyone will even bother to intervene. I had conversations about censorship and the Tiananmen massacre with Chinese people in China. Another example would be YouTubers laowhy86 and serpentza. They are pretty focused on the negative sides of China and have uploaded a lot of content from within China. They actually left China just a few months ago and apparently didn't have any problems doing so. I mean not that I'm trying to force you to go to China or anywhere else but I really think it's a very valuable experience. But that also depends on other circumstances like whether you have family. I certainly wouldn't want to move to the other side of the planet for half a year with a toddler. :-)


- Generalization: "Western Media Bad"

- Americans bad

- Chinese Culture good

- Everybody else lying.

I'm sure this comment could help with a bad social credit.


Heh looks like you're exactly the kind of person described in the first sentence. ;-)

I'm astonished how many people need to paint the world black and white in order to function. Chinese people have to be all evil and bad so I can feel better about my home country.


I'm neither "Murican" nor am I one of those ominous fake news spreaders who never have been there.

And nobody said that all Chinese people have to be evil...I haven't seen anybody here making this statement. Why do you feel you have to set up this straw man?


Your reading comprehension skills seem to be severely lacking.


I understood your Ad pretty good. Just like I've saw your disclaimers spread here and there. No worries.


Heh well done I fell for it. Should have checked your comment history before replying but oh well, I fed a troll.


Wrote the guy with ad hominem as an answer.

Perfect.


>Thoudands of Chinese citizens have been subjected to the ban, including an unknown number of foreigners.

A good question here would be if the "foreigners" as defined are, for example, Asian-Australians or Asian-Americans who are not Chinese passport holders but were raised by Chinese parents.

I imagine that anyone can be accused of spying, but so far it seems it is mostly happening along racial lines.

The reason I am asking is because my girlfriend is an H1B Chinese citizen and she is required to return to China next year to renew some paperwork. I want to come with her to visit the country and I'm curious what the (small) odds are that we would have a problem.

Out of the many millions of people who visit China every year, it seems like you roughly run a 0.01% chance of having a problem, which is non-zero but also not terrible. Theoretically you have to piss off some authorities at a high level to warrant de facto house arrest.


Most Americans visit even North Korea as part of tour groups without issue... up until that kid decided to steal propaganda. These scary stories are vastly overblown. Barack Obama’s half brother lives in China... if nothing has happened to him frankly you are nowhere important enough for anyone to care.


I don’t think this comparison is apt; although, I don’t necessarily disagree with your conclusion. Simply because China would think 10x as hard before making a move on a former presidents brother. Whereas, it’s a much easier decision to mess with a nobody.


Conversely, the Chinese government is probably willing to bend over backwards to make sure nothing happens to Obama's brother because of the political nightmare it would be for them.


The discussion is mostly about whether China is justified, and whether the US does similar things.

What interests me is the fact that, as pretty much an American, I just don't understand Chinese culture. The TFA doesn't discuss Chinese public opinion about these cases. But in analogy to the Hong Kong situation, I suspect that the public isn't sympathetic.

Of course, from an American perspective, social control and propaganda obviously account for that. But what if those weren't the main factors?

Is it really true that individuals don't matter so much in Chinese culture? Except mainly how they affect society, that is.

But maybe that's far too simplistic.

And of course, I have similar questions about what American culture is really about. Or even if there is such a thing.


Educated people from western countries have political norms that they think are universal but are actually highly contingent on the Enlightenment. These values such as freedom and democracy have some limited play in China but are not esteemed to the same extent, especially after Communist ideologies became dominant after 1949. Rather than considering liberalism as a normative end to pursue, Chinese were more likely to treat it as way to pursue national wealth and power.


When I was a kid China was always referred to as Communist China. As it became profitable and acceptable to do business with China the Communist prefix was conveniently dropped.

"Exit bans" are unfortunate, but certainly no surprise to those who still remember to use the prefix.


These cases clearly have nothing to do with the current president or any American policy. If the author has no rational justification for their position, I will assume they have a dishonest purpose, and therefore I should be inclined to believe and act the opposite way they want me to.


Apparently people have forgotten that China is governed by a communist dictatorship, or they wouldn't be surprised by this behavior.


That's why people invest in Vietnam instead. Oh wait...


I would call it a capitalist dictatorship at this point.


Kleptocracy != Capitalism


Authoritarianism != Socialism


They call themselves communists and explicitly avow Marxism. If they're not socialists / communists, no one is.


I was specifically responding to the claim that crony capitalism is not representative of capitalism and made a counterpoint of how you could defend almost any system that way.

Nonetheless, it's pretty well accepted that China is more capitalist today than ever, that's not really controversial.


Crony capitalist dictatorship.


Not sure why you are downvoted. China is exactly a kind of cronyist, state capitalist system.


Social media gives a few people out of 7 billion the power to downvote you. And ycombinator gives them anonymity.


My guess is that few people see examples of larger capitalist countries that are not cronyist, state capitalist. The US, UK, France, Germany etc certainly aren't examples.


It's easier to leave a small country. The distance from any city in it to another country is lower. You can hop in a boat in Singapore or Hong Kong, but that is much harder to in East Turkestan.

Then there is the likelihood of colonization or invasion in general and the ability of ideas to spread. Competition between governments is more intense.

It may be Europe got its technological advantage and property rights evolved more quickly there because of more competition between countries. But in the center of a large continent, change is slower.


This is why people often talk past one another when they say "capitalism". Because it just one thing to one person and cronyism to another. Where both capitalism and socialism, big surprise, are very broad terms.


That's true, and tribalism plays into it as well: virtually everything is fine where I'm from, it's just those people that pervert the system and have their princelings or revolving doors between government and big business.

Staying clear of the boundaries of one's bubble make it easy, too.


Authoritarian regime... actually much like Singapore. Let’s not forget South Korea was literally a dictatorship up until 80s.

Only difference was China was a lot poorer so people shit on it all the time and find them less relatable and respectable. And also it isn’t under the US’s thumb.


Let's not forget that the chinese communist party is currently performing three different genocides simultaneously: genocide against tibetans, genocide against uyghurs, and genocide against falun gong practitioners. So it's on a different level when compared to most other authoritarian regimes.


What is this genocide? You mean like how the Nazi's killed the Jewish people? Because that type of genocide is definitely not happening.


Related: Canada Picks "Hostage Negotiator" As China Envoy

https://www.asiatimes.com/2019/09/article/canada-picks-hosta...


The Americans cannot step into an US embassy and be carried out in a diplomatic bag?


That's probably possible, but would likely make it very hard for those evacuated in that manner to return to China in the future. It's not tourists here, it's people who went to visit their family and are now stuck.


As far as I know, occurrences of diplomatic bags for carrying persons have been extremely, extremely rare (less than a dozen) and are forbidden.


> and are forbidden.

That's correct - Article 27,4 of the "Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations":

The packages constituting the diplomatic bag must bear visible external marks of their character and may contain only diplomatic documents or articles intended for official use.

http://legal.un.org/ilc/texts/instruments/english/convention...


Can't the embassy designate them as diplomatic couriers? Article 27.5 say they have immunity, and 27.6 says they can be assigned ad hoc.


They can, but the receiving country can also kick out the ambassador and, more frequently, I believe recently some country kicked more than 10 diplomats, perhaps US against Russia.


I think the Nigerian embassy in London forgot to read that clause


For those like me that have never heard of this: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dikko_affair


huh .. Surely they've got to the US embassy. I wonder what the response was? I think there may be complications in this case due to the dual citizenship (especially with China not allowing dual citizens).


I don't know much about this, but [1], yes there are likely complications:

> Dual nationals owe allegiance to both the United States and the foreign country. They are required to obey the laws of both countries, and either country has the right to enforce its laws. It is important to note the problems attendant to dual nationality. Claims of other countries upon U.S. dual-nationals often place them in situations where their obligations to one country are in conflict with the laws of the other. In addition, their dual nationality may hamper efforts of the U.S. Government to provide consular protection to them when they are abroad, especially when they are in the country of their second nationality.

[1] https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/legal/travel-lega...


Anecdote: I visited China in July for 3 weeks. I'm an American. They let me leave.


The government must help it's citizens, especially as ban is unlawful and has nothing to do with any kind of criminal prosecution. One thing if they were arrested, but this... Why not just extract them?


When you are in another country, and the government decides to abuse you, detain you or even straight up execute you, there is very, very little your home country can do about it, besides complain and try to assist you with some advice (not legal advice however).

They aren't going to invade another country to recover you, or do much of anything else. Even if you are American.

https://travel.state.gov/content/travel/en/international-tra...

Keep this in mind before you travel.

Read travel advisories, they are not overblown, or alarmist, they are important sources of information to fully understand before you travel.

https://travelmaps.state.gov/TSGMap/

https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories

https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice


Maybe because challenging China's sovereignty is risky? Just a guess. It's a good question.

With the rapid growth of global tourism, there are a lot more citizens visiting different countries. I wonder if the state dept (or equivalent in other govts) are getting stretched.

The article makes it clear that China is making up criminal cases to justify exit bans, as well.


Just an inflatable boat and a sub in coastal waters. Massive ECM cover if they mention anything. And denial after.

What also works is making the most of these cases in PR sense. To show people that travel to China is risky. Must be a good way of impeding their economic growth and world influence, who wants to deal in a country like that.


>Just an inflatable boat and a sub in coastal waters.

I have a feeling that they're probably being monitored, so that probably won't go very well.


> Just an inflatable boat and a sub in coastal waters. Massive ECM cover if they mention anything. And denial after.

Sounds like you're volunteering for that job.


Because the situation can be exploited, the government just needs to twist and push the story so the next actions related to China are motivated or citizen get distracted related to the real reasons behind the actions.


Other side of that coin is America using entry bans as a political tool. Lots of families here in the US have family abroad that aren't allowed to enter the country and reunite, because banning an entire country due to "terrorism" looks good at the polls.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Executive_Order_13780#Current_...

Who is downvoting this? Explain yourselves.


That's... not really the same. One of them is Hotel California, the other you are inconvenienced for where your family reunions will happen.


One of them is Hotel California, the other is "I would like to see my mother again and have her meet my children, but she isn't allowed in the country," or "my brother is stuck in a war-torn country and I can't get him out." It's not just an inconvenience, it's families that are forcibly separated for totally bullshit reasons. (In addition it's "I can't take a job in the US", "I can't support my family members in time of crisis", and so on)

Here: https://www.nytimes.com/2018/07/01/world/americas/travel-ban...

  - The number of people who fall under the ban exceeds 135 million
  - The majority are in the five Muslim-majority nations, led by Iran, with a population of more than 80 million
"The executive order "affects the lives and families" of at least 187 Google employees" (https://www.buzzfeednews.com/article/williamalden/nearly-200...)

https://www.americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2017/02/09...

"Dr. Suha Abushamma, 26, is an internal medicine resident at the Cleveland Clinic. Although she had an H-1B visa for workers in “specialty occupations,” which should allow her to enter, live, and work in the United States, Abushamma was not permitted to enter the country. Abushamma holds a passport from Sudan, which is one of the banned nations."

"Sahar Algonaimi, 60, was detained for five hours at Chicago O’Hare International Airport following the issuance of the executive order. Algonaimi, a Syrian national, had traveled to the United States from Saudi Arabia to visit her 76-year-old mother who is recovering from surgery for breast cancer. Although she held a U.S. visa and had planned to stay in the country for a week, she was she was forced to board a flight to the United Arab Emirates instead of being allowed to clear customs."

"“I needed someone to be with me here,” Ulayyet said through tears at the hospital. “How am I going to teach my kids and tell them that this is a free country? How can we tell my kids that we have to take care of each other?”"

You don't think these sound similar to the OP?


> One of them is Hotel California, the other is "I would like to see my mother again and have her meet my children, but she isn't allowed in the country,"

In one of them you are literally a prisoner. In the other you still have options.

More like: "I would like to see my mother again, but she is not allowed in the country. Therefore, I will go to her instead, or we will meet in Canada or some other country we are both allowed in. That is quite inconvenient."


They literally aren't prisoners in China, they just can't leave the country. They're free to do as they please in-country. You could easily say that's just an inconvenience too. But that means some people can't go back to their lives in the US, just like some people blocked by the US travel ban can't continue their lives as before. There are multiple ways that both exit and entry bans affect people in significant ways, and both for political reasons.


> They literally aren't prisoners in China, they just can't leave the country.

So it's just an exceptionally big prison, but it's still a prison. And once you run out of money, what are you supposed to do? Beg on the streets?




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