The Chinese system prevents thousands of people from leaving the country and the number is increasing day by day

The Chinese system prevents thousands of people from leaving the country and the number is increasing day by day
Chinese passport (protection of defenders)

China People, including foreign executives, are increasingly prohibited from leaving the country, a chilling message as authorities say the country is open for business after three years of strict COVID-19 restrictions.

Dozens of Chinese and foreigners were seen Trapped because of the exit banAccording to a new report from the human rights group Preventive measures advocateswhile analyzing Reuters was found apparent An increase in court cases related to such bans In recent years, foreign business lobbies have raised concerns about this trend.

Since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, China has expanded the legal landscape of exit bans and has increasingly used them, sometimes without legal justification.Reads the Preventative Action Advocates report.

“Between 2018 and July this year, at least five new or amended (Chinese) laws stipulate the use of exit bans, for A total of 15 laws todaysaid Laura Hareth, the group’s campaign director.

The group calculates that “tens of thousands” of Chinese were prevented from leaving at one point. It also cites a 2022 academic paper by Chris Carr and Jack Roldsen that found 128 cases of foreigners prevented from leaving between 1995 and 2019, including 29 Americans and 44 Canadians.

The focus on the exit ban comes as tensions escalate between China and the United States over trade and security disputes. This is in stark contrast to China’s message that it is opening up to foreign travel and investment, emerging from isolation from some of the world’s toughest coronavirus restrictions.

More and more laws provide for the use of exit bans (Reuters)

analysis Reuters From the exit ban records, from the database of the Supreme Court of China, it appears eightfold increase In cases reported bans between 2016 and 2022.

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last week, China has strengthened its anti-espionage law, allowing exit bans to be imposed on anyone, whether Chinese or foreign, under investigation.

Most of the cases in the database that refer to exit bans are civil rather than criminal cases. Reuters It found none related to foreigners or politically sensitive issues of subversion or national security.

By comparison, the United States and the European Union impose travel bans on some criminal suspects, but not generally in the case of civil lawsuits.

China’s Ministry of Public Security did not respond to requests Reuters To comment on the exit ban, including questions about the number of people subject to it, including foreigners.

One of the people banned from leaving China this year is a Singaporean executive at US due diligence firm Mintz, according to three people familiar with the matter.

The company, the CEO and the China Public Security Bureau did not respond to requests for comment.

Mintz said in late March that authorities had searched the company’s China office and detained five local employees. The State Department said at the time that Mintz was suspected of involvement in illegal business operations. The US management consulting firm reported last week that police visited Bain & Co’s Shanghai office and questioned employees.

Due to the growing tensions between the United States and China, the importance of this risk (exit ban) has increased.said Lester Ross, a veteran attorney in China who has tried blocking exit cases.

“I noticed A Increasing the number of companies and entities concerned with this issue And that they’re asking us for advice on how to prepare and minimize the risk of a “ban-out,” said Ross, chair of the China Policy Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce.

Xi Jinping and Joe Biden (Reuters)

Foreign companies are concerned about the heightened scrutiny and vague wording of the anti-espionage legislation, which stipulates that exit bans may be imposed on those who cause “damage to national security or significant harm to national interests.”

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“The uncertainty is huge,” says Jorg Wuttke, president of the European Union Chamber of Commerce in China. “Can you act with due diligence? Clarity must come.”

said the Chamber of the European Union Reuters In a statement: “While China is proactively trying to restore business confidence to attract foreign investment, The exit ban sends a very mixed signal. “

Persons prohibited from leaving China include ordinary Chinese involved in financial disputes, as well Rights advocates, activists, lawyers and ethnic minorities Such as the Uyghurs in northwest China’s Xinjiang region, according to the Safeguard Defenders report.

He cites a Chinese court report stating that 34,000 people were subjected to an exit ban between 2016 and 2018 because of their debts, a 55% increase over the same period three years earlier.

Some activists say the wider use of exit bans reflects the tightening of security measures under President Xi.

“They can find any reason not to leave the country,” said Xiang Li, a Chinese human rights activist who was denied leave for two years before fleeing China in 2017 and then being granted asylum in the United States.

China does not have the rule of lawL. said Reuters by phone from ca. The law is used to serve the purposes of the Chinese Communist Party. It’s very effective.”

(With information from Reuters)

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