BEIJING — The US on Tuesday issued a sweeping new advisory warning against travel to mainland China and Hong Kong, citing the risk of “arbitrary detention” and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”
The advisory is likely to heighten tensions between the sides that have spiked since Beijing’s imposition on Hong Kong of a strict new national security law in June that has already been met with a series of US punitive actions.
The new advisory warned US citizens that China imposes “arbitrary detention and exit bans” to compel cooperation with investigations, pressure family members to return to China from abroad, influence civil disputes and “gain bargaining leverage over foreign governments.”
“US citizens traveling or residing in China or Hong Kong, may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. US citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention without due process of law,” the advisory said.
In Hong Kong, China “unilaterally and arbitrarily exercises police and security power,” the advisory said, adding that new legislation also covers offenses committed by non-Hong Kong residents or organizations outside of Hong Kong, possibly subjecting US citizens who have publicly criticized China to a “heightened risk of arrest, detention, expulsion, or prosecution.”
When in Hong Kong, US citizens are “strongly cautioned to be aware of their surroundings and avoid demonstrations,” the advisory said.
Last month, the Trump administration suspended or terminated three bilateral agreements with Hong Kong covering extradition and tax exemptions, citing Beijing’s violation of its pledge for Hong Kong to retain broad autonomy for 50 years after the former British colony’s 1997 handover to Chinese rule.
Other Western nations have also suspended their extradition treaties with Hong Kong following the national security’s law’s passage.
The US has also acted to end special trade and commercial privileges that Hong Kong had enjoyed and has imposed sanctions on Hong Kong and Chinese officials, including Hong Kong’s pro-Beijing leader Carrie Lam, involved in enforcing the new security law.
Tensions between Beijing and Washington have hit their lowest point in decades amid simmering disputes over trade, technology, Taiwan, Tibet, the South China Sea, the coronavirus pandemic and, most recently, Hong Kong. The impact of the tensions has been felt in the tit-for-tat closures of diplomatic missions as well as visa restrictions on students and journalists.
The latest travel advisory did not offer any new warnings regarding COVID-19 in mainland China and Hong Kong, but referred travelers to earlier notices advising Americans to avoid the regions and return home from them if possible.
President Donald Trump has assigned full blame to Beijing for the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., deflecting criticism of his own handling of the pandemic that threatens his reelection.
The virus was first detected in the central Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, leading to the global pandemic. Critics have accused Beijing of an initial cover-up attempt, although Trump himself has admitted to downplaying the severity of the virus as early as February.
China appears to have contained the virus within its borders, reporting no new cases of domestic infection in a month, while Hong Kong has also radically brought down its numbers of new cases.
Donald Trump gets third nomination for Nobel Peace Prize
President Trump has scored a hat trick of nominations for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, this time for the president’s foreign policy philosophy, dubbed the “Trump Doctrine,” according to a report.
“What he has done with the Trump Doctrine is that he has decided he would no longer have America involved in endless wars, wars which achieve nothing but the killing of thousands of young Americans and enormous debts imposed on America,” Australian law professor David Flint told Sky News Australia on Sunday. “He’s reducing America’s tendency to get involved in any and every war.”
Flint and a group of law professors in Australia are the third to nominate Trump for the prize.
“What Trump did is he went ahead and negotiated against all advice, but he did it with common sense,” Flint said. “He negotiated directly with the Arab states concerned and Israel and brought them together.”
Magnus Jacobsson, a member of the Swedish Parliament, nominated Trump for the prize for his work in forging a historic peace deal between Serbia and Kosovo, and Christian Tybring-Gjedde, a member of the Norwegian Parliament, nominated Trump for the Israel-UAE-Bahrain deal.
“For his merit, I think he has done more trying to create peace between nations than most other Peace Prize nominees,” Tybring-Gjedde said of Trump’s accomplishments.
The winner of the 2020 peace prize is expected to be announced on Oct. 9.
Michigan man fatally shot after argument in line at haunted house
A Michigan man was fatally shot and his attacker is on the loose after the pair is believed to have had an argument while standing in the line to get into a Detroit haunted house, police said.
The victim, a 29-year-old Detroit man, was with his girlfriend waiting to enter Erebus Haunted House on South Perry Street shortly after 12:30 a.m. Sunday when “a male subject in line ahead of them would not move,” the Oakland County Sheriff’s Office said in a press release later that day.
“The victim and the suspect exchanged words as the suspect thought the victim had cut in line ahead of him,” police added.
The victim then told his girlfriend he was going to his car in a nearby parking lot. It’s not clear when the other man also left the line and made his way to the lot, but police said witnesses later heard bullets being fired.
The victim, whose name was not immediately released, was shot in the neck, chest and side, police said. He was found lying on the concrete and was rushed to an area hospital, but could not be saved.
Police provided photographs of the suspected shooter, whom they described as a thin black man approximately 6 feet tall, wearing jeans and an orange hoodie. They also shared pictures of a blue sedan that was seen fleeing the scene after the shooting.
Investigators are offering a reward of an unspecified amount for any information that leads them to the killer.
Ex-Bloomberg construction exec pleads guilty to tax evasion
A former construction executive at Bloomberg LLC pleaded guilty Tuesday to evading taxes on more than a million dollars of cash and gifts he received in a years-long bribery scheme, prosecutors said.
Anthony Guzzone accepted the bribes from subcontractors while working as director of global construction at Bloomberg from 2010 to 2017, prosecutors in Manhattan federal court said.
The subcontractors gave Guzzone cash, did work for him at his New Jersey mansion and gave him Super Bowl ticket packages in exchange for securing maintenance and construction contracts for Bloomberg projects, prosecutors said.
“Bribery and tax evasion each impose hidden, unfair costs on the law-abiding public. The sort of criminality admitted to by Anthony Guzzone imposes that burden widely, on customers, on employers, and on taxpayers. Guzzone now awaits sentencing for his crime,” Acting US Attorney Audrey Strauss said in a statement.
Guzzone worked with several associates in the scheme, including Michael Campana, a subordinate construction manager at the company, who was sentenced to two years in prison in July for dodging taxes on $420,000 he siphoned off.
Campana used the cash in part for personal expenses related to his 2017 wedding, including a $40,000 sum paid by contractors for a catering hall in New Jersey, prosecutors said.
Guzzone, Campana and two other defendants bilked subcontractors out of a total of more than $5 million in the scheme, authorities said.
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