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China Prevents Millions of People from Leaving the Country, according to NGO

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China is preventing millions of its citizens from exiting the country, according to a new report by Safeguard Defenders, a human rights NGO. Safeguard Defenders previously issued reports on China’s covert police stations around the world, and its psychiatric institutions that it uses to suppress dissent.

According to the newest report, China has 178 national and local regulations and laws that form the legal regime propping up such exit bans. Such laws allow bans on foreigners and nationals alike for vague reasons such as “other circumstances in which exit from China is not allowed in accordance with laws or administrative regulations.”

The Scope of the Issue

The report cited that while China does not publicize comprehensive data, “human rights groups estimated that at least 14 million people were affected by exit bans in China in 2015.” Safeguard Defenders found that the term “exit ban” appeared in China’s Supreme People’s Court’s (SPC) database China Judgments Online (CJO) appeared nearly 39,000 times in 2020, which was almost eight times the number it was in 2016 (at slightly under 5,000).

Known Exit Bans Disproportionately Effect Minorities

The main reason why the total number of exit bans is estimated in the millions is due to China’s disproportionate use of them on minorities, according to the report. The report stated that, starting in 2012, China permanently confiscated all passports from the Tibet Autonomous Region (with 90 percent of this population being Tibetans). This effectively amounted to an exit ban on three million people. Travelling abroad from this region is only permitted in very narrow exceptions, like for official government business.

Similarly, China (through the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture) confiscated passports of three million residents of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in 2015. China confiscated more passports from Uyghurs in 2016. Ironically, a Uyghur applying for a passport can now result in him being sent to a “re-education” camp, according to the report.

“Civil Disputes”

The second largest category of exit bans are for “civil disputes.” When Safeguard Defenders searched for “exit ban” on the SPC’s CJO in January 2023, it found that the number of entries from 2017 through 2021 was 126,829 results, nearly 99 percent of which (125,575) were linked to civil proceedings, which included business disputes and debt issues.

The report, citing a 2022 academic paper, claims that from 1995 through 2019, at least 41 foreign businesspeople could not leave China as a result of “civil business disputes.” The authors of that report conceded that this statistic is a “significant underestimate” given data limitations and the desire of businesses to be discreet when they are attempting to find resolutions. A Taiwanese “semi-official agency” that deals with China-Taiwan business matters asserted that in 2016 “many Taiwanese businesspeople” had been subject to exit bans due to “civil disputes.”

Political Exit Bans

China has used exit bans for political reasons at least since the aftermath of the 1989 Tiananmen Square Massacre, according to the report. China barred “dozens” of lawyers and their relatives from leaving China in the aftermath of the 709 Crackdown in 2015.  For the report, Safeguard Defenders interviewed eighteen human rights defenders (HRDs) and their family members that were victims of exit bans.

Exit Bans on Americans

Another estimate cited by the report was that “at least two dozen” Americans had been prevented from exiting China from 2019-2021. The report noted that not only the US, but Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom, and “others” have issued travel advisories warning their citizens of Chinese exit bans. The report shows a picture of a travel advisory issued from the State Department in January 2023. A similar warning is still up on the State Department’s website (dated March 2023 at the time of this writing): “The PRC government arbitrarily enforces local laws, including issuing exit bans on U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries without fair and transparent process under the law.”

“Nine Forbidden Countries”

Under the guise of preventing crimes from Chinese gangs, several regions in China have banned or strictly regulated travel to “nine forbidden countries”: Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Thailand, Turkey and the UAE.

Conclusion

China is using exit bans, much like it uses psychiatric institutions and covert police stations abroad, to suppress its own people. These draconian methods should bring to question China’s ability to negotiate a peaceful de-escalation in the Taiwan Strait in good faith.

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China

Analysis: Biden unlikely to sanction Iran’s oil exports, gas prices ‘critical during an election year’

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Analysts say President Joe Biden is unlikely to “prompt dramatic sanctions action on Iran’s oil exports” due to “worries about boosting oil prices and angering top buyer China” according to Reuters.

Speaking to Fox News on Sunday, House Republican Representative Steve Scalise, said the administration had made it easier for Iran to sell its oil, generating revenues that were being used to “go fund terrorist activity.”

The Biden administration has maintained for months that among its primary goals is to keep the Gaza conflict between terror group Hamas and Israel from turning into a wider regional war. However, House Republican leaders accused President Joe Biden of failing to enforce existing measures and said they would take up this week a series of bills to sharpen sanctions on Iran.

Kimberly Donovan, a sanctions and anti-money laundering expert at the Atlantic Council, said that oil-related sanctions have not been strictly enforced in the past couple of years.

“I would not expect the administration to tighten enforcement in response to Iran’s missile and drone attacks against Israel over the weekend, mainly for concerns (that) could lead to increases in oil prices,” she said.

“The price of oil and ultimately the prices of gas at the pump become critical during an election year.”
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