China uses exit bans coercively: "to compel US citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations, to lure individuals back to China from overseas, and to aid Chinese authorities in resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties", the State Department warned.
Reports say the travel guidance issued by the USA comes after the detentions of two Canadians in China last month and came amid heightened diplomatic tensions in the wake of the arrest in Canada of a top executive in Chinese telecoms giant Huawei. "The U.S., however, has recently used various excuses to conduct gratuitous inspections and create obstacles for Chinese citizens entering the U.S".
That number has been stable in recent year and compares to the 900 Canadians detained in the United States for similar reasons, the official said.
Their detentions followed the arrest of Huawei Chief Financial Officer Meng Wanzhou, who was held in Vancouver at the request of United States prosecutors on December 1. She says Kovrig and Spavor's rights are being respected in custody.
"It is not convenient to disclose more information now".
December 7: Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland says Canada's envoy to China has briefed Chinese officials about Meng's case.
China ratcheted up its accusations against the two detained Canadians on Thursday, with the country's chief prosecutor declaring that the pair broke Chinese law "without a doubt".
Beijing has only given vague details about the detention of the two Canadians, and hasn't drawn a direct link to Meng's arrest.
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The U.S. wants Meng to face fraud charges.
"This doesn't shed much light", said Malley.
Later in the day, Meng is released on $10 million bail.
While Meng has had full access to lawyers and is able to see her family, Kovrig is being denied legal representation, isn't allowed to see family, and is limited to one consular visit a month, sources familiar with the situation told Reuters.
Canada has sought the support of key allies in pressuring China to release Kovrig and Spavor.
In comparison, there are nearly 900 Canadians in a similar situation in the United States, the official added.
December 21: Kovrig's employer, the International Crisis Group, says he has not been given access to a lawyer while in custody.
The united message, being delivered publicly and privately to China, is that the continued detentions are harmful to China because they will discourage businesspeople, academics and others from travelling to the country, said Malley.