Last Updated: Thursday, 31 July 2014, 17:47 GMT

China: Information on forced exile and travel restrictions

Publisher United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services
Author Resource Information Center
Publication Date 31 May 2002
Citation / Document Symbol CHN02002.ZNY
Cite as United States Bureau of Citizenship and Immigration Services, China: Information on forced exile and travel restrictions, 31 May 2002, CHN02002.ZNY, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/414eea764.html [accessed 1 August 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Query:

A Chinese applicant testified that she was "expelled from China" on 30 days notice because authorities discovered she had brought Christian religious magazines on her trip from the U.S. She is in F-2 status, and she had been residing substantially in the U.S. Is there any country conditions information available to substantiate that Chinese authorities give their own citizens 30 days to leave the country essentially against their will?

Response:

EXILE AND DEPORTATION OF DISSIDENTS

Recent high-profile cases of urgent departures of dissidents from China have involved denial of reentry to Chinese nationals, deportations of Chinese-born U.S. citizens, and the release of prisoners or detainees who are placed directly on outbound flights under agreements with countries granting asylum.

A desk officer in the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs at the U.S. State Department said Chinese authorities have refused reentry to some Chinese nationals who were dissidents either before they left China or once they went abroad. These Chinese citizens then were unable to renew their passports at Chinese embassies and consulates overseas. The officer said, however, that the Government of China generally does not exile Chinese nationals once they have been allowed to reenter the country (U.S. DOS 23 May 2002).

Similarly, the U.S. State Department's latest annual human rights report on China said there were, "no reports that the government exiled citizens" in 2001; however, "[t]he government refused reentry to citizens who were dissidents or activists" (U.S. DOS Mar 2002).

A January 1995 Human Rights Watch report reveals the discovery of "confidential Chinese government blacklists barring overseas-based pro-democracy and human rights activists" from reentering China when returning from travel abroad (HRW Jan 1995, 1). According to the report, the existence of such lists long had been suspected by exiled Chinese dissidents and other observers, but "conclusive documentary evidence" previously had not been found (HRW Jan 1995, 1). The newest list at that time, dated May 1994, is translated into English and included as an appendix to the report, and the existence of previous lists is also discussed. The report states: "...[H]undreds of individuals have been named as not permitted to return [to China in previous black-lists]. Moreover, a number of individuals not cited in any known lists have been refused entry to China" (HRW Jan 1995, 4).

The report also states: "Prior to August 1991, when the majority of the banning orders [against re-entry into China of certain individuals] were issued, China, for the most part, had prevented such people [as former political prisoners] or their relatives from leaving the country. The banning orders...indicated a policy shift that enabled the Chinese government to achieve two objectives at once. The authorities allowed dissidents to leave, thereby appearing to appease human rights critics in the U.S., while at the same time, they secretly pursued a policy of sending former political prisoners and other dissidents into involuntary exile abroad" (HRW Jan 1995, 1-2).

"Others named on the re-entry blacklist had their passports canceled by Beijing or confiscated by Chinese consular officials while still living overseas, thereby rendering them effectively stateless...." (HRW Jan 1995, 1-2).

The report further states: "We should note that there is nothing illegal in countries alerting their immigration officials to 'wanted' lists of citizens who have arrest warrants pending against them...or [to] foreign nationals legitimately barred from entering, [yet the charges pending against many of the individuals on the black-list] are for political offenses that are in conflict with the rights to freedom of expression and association" (HRW Jan 1995, 3-4).

A researcher on China for Human Rights Watch in New York said in a telephone interview that the Government of China at times sends political prisoners out of the country on short notice, generally under arrangements with the country granting asylum. She said, however, that she had not heard of ordinary Chinese citizens being forced to leave China on short notice (HRW Researcher 23 May 2002). An Amnesty International researcher contacted in London also said she had heard of several cases where dissidents were forced to leave China on short notice (AI Researcher 23 May 2002).

The Resource Information Center reviewed several recent, publicized cases where dissidents left China on short notice:

- Gao Zhan, a Chinese national with U.S. permanent residency rights who was convicted of spying for Taiwan, left China immediately after being released from detention in July 2001 on "medical parole." Gao was deported to the U.S. (U.S. DOS 23 May 2002; HRIC Fall 2001; HRW 28 Jul 2001; AP 26 Jul 2001; CBSNews.com 30 Jul 2001).

- Song Yongyi, a Chinese national with U.S. permanent residency, said he was placed by Chinese authorities aboard a Northwest Airlines flight bound for the United States in January 2000 after spending some six months in detention. Song, a librarian at Dickinson College in Pennsylvania, was released following heavy international pressure. Fellow academics said Song was visiting China to carry out research on the Cultural Revolution when he was detained in August 1999 on charges of gathering documents containing state secrets. Song lives with his family in Pennsylvania, and there is no evidence that he had intended to remain in China after finishing his research (HRIC Summer/Fall 2000; BBC 29 Jan 2000).

- In April 1998, China released prominent Tiananmen Square activist Wang Dan from prison on "medical parole" and immediately exiled him to the U.S. (BBC 19 Feb 2002).

- In November 1997, China released prominent dissident Wei Jingsheng after 18 years in prison and "forced him into exile" in the U.S., purportedly to seek medical treatment (BBC 19 Feb 2002, Asiaweek.com 28 Nov 1997).

The Government of China has in recent years also deported several naturalized U.S. citizens for their human rights activism. For example, Wang Bingzhang was deported in February 1998 after meeting with democracy activists in eastern and central China (BBC 10 Feb 1998). Another example is that of U.S. citizen and well-known Chinese human rights activist Harry Wu, who was expelled from China on August 25, 1995, after being sentenced two days earlier to 15 years in prison in China for spying (CNN.com 25 Aug 1995). Mr. Wu was denied entry to Hong Kong in April 2002 "for security reasons" (AFP 15 Apr 2002).

INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL FOR DEPENDENTS OF CHINESE STUDENTS STUDYING ABROAD

The representative of the U.S. Department of State, Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs stated that there has been a general liberalization in freedom of travel in China and passport issuance by the Government of China to Chinese citizens in the past five to ten years. Currently, spouses of Chinese students studying abroad often join the student in the country of study, whereas in the past, travel of students' spouses was often inhibited by the Chinese government. Most Chinese students come to the U.S. on full or partial university scholarships, often with some stipend or housing included, and spouses and children are often allowed to join them unless they are quite destitute and there is some question as to how they will support themselves while in the U.S. [the U.S. government does not permit spouses of international students to be employed in the U.S.] (U.S. DOS 29 May 2002).

This response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the RIC within time constraints. This response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum.

References:

Agence France Presse (AFP). "US-Based Activist Wu Detained by Hong Kong Authorities: Rights Group" (15 Apr 2002), http://asia.news.yahoo.com/020415/afp/020415043334asiapacificnews.html [Accessed 31 May 2002].

Amnesty International Researcher on China (AI Researcher). Telephone interview (London: 23 May 2002).

Asiaweek.com. "Freedom in Exile" (28 Nov 1997), http://www.asiaweek.com/asiaweek/97/1128/nat1.html [Accessed 30 May 2002].

Associated Press (AP). "Unwelcome Mat: Beijing Deports U.S.-Based Chinese Scholar Convicted of Spying" (26 Jul 2001) on ABCNews.com, http://ad.doubleclick.net/adi/N339.abcnews.com/B939866.4;sz=120x240; click=http://transfer.go.com/cgi/atransfer.pl?name=111491&srvc=nws&guid=08 3F560C-D31F-4203-9038-4D3149B1EC7C&context=53583&goto=;ord=2002.05.24.08.55.52? [Accessed 23 May 2002].

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). "Timeline: U.S.-China Relations" (19 Feb 2002), http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsid_1258000/1258054.stm [Accessed 30 May 2002].

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). "Academic Freed by China Flies Home" (29 Jan 2000), http://news.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/asia-pacific/newsid_623000/623235.stm [Accessed 23 May 2002].

British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). "China Deports Human Rights Activist" (10 Feb 1998), http://news6.thdo.bbc.co.uk/hi/english/world/newsid_55000/55211.stm [Accessed 30 May 2002].

CBSNews.com. "Hong Kong Accepts Academic" (30 Jul 2001), http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2001/07/24/world/main302998.shtml [Accessed 23 May 2002].

CNN.com. "Harry Wu Humbled by Huge Homecoming" (25 Aug 1995), http://www.cnn.com/WORLD/9508/Harry_Wu/8-25/ [Accessed 30 May 2002].

Human Rights in China (HRIC). CHINA RIGHTS FORUM, "Hostage to History: Cultural Revolution Researcher Detained and Released" (Summer/Fall 2000), http://iso.hrichina.org:8151/iso/article.adp?article_id=442&subcategory_id=9 [Accessed 23 May 2002].

Human Rights in China (HRIC). CHINA RIGHTS FORUM, "Li Shaomin: Still Recovering From an Unexpected Ordeal" (Fall 2001), http://iso.hrichina.org:8151/iso/article.adp?article_id=1272&subcategory_id=204 [Accessed 23 May 2002].

Human Rights Watch Researcher on China (HRW Researcher). Telephone interview (New York: 23 May 2002).

Human Rights Watch (HRW). "HRW Chinese Scholars Detained: Update" (28 Jul 2001), http://www.hrw.org/campaigns/china/scholars/ [Accessed 23 May 2002].

Human Rights Watch (HRW). CHINA: ENFORCED EXILE OF DISSIDENTS, GOVERNMENT "RE-ENTRY BLACKLIST" REVEALED (New York: Jan 1995), 22 p.

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). COUNTRY REPORTS ON HUMAN RIGHTS PRACTICES FOR 2001, "China" (Washington, DC: Mar 2002).

U.S. Department of State (U.S. DOS). Desk Officer, Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs. Telephone interviews (Washington, DC: 23, 29 May 2002).

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