Senators Van Hollen, Markey, Rubio, and Warren Announce Reintroduction of Bipartisan Legislation to Counter Chinese Government Policy Coercively Preventing Americans from Leaving China
Legislation revokes and denies visas to Chinese officials implementing coercive policy after top Biden Administration officials pressed the Chinese government to stop the practice
Senators Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) today announced the reintroduction of legislation to enhance accountability for Chinese officials involved in coercively banning American citizens from leaving China. In recent years, Chinese officials have prevented U.S. citizens from leaving China in order to pressure relatives wanted by the Chinese government to submit themselves to Chinese authorities. This unfair “exit ban” policy violates international human rights norms and has been used to keep Americans in China for years. Estimates suggest that at least two dozen U.S. citizens have been barred from leaving China over the past three years. U.S. citizens trapped in China are also often harassed and threatened by authorities, according to the Department of State’s Travel Advisory for China. The U.S. delegation, led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, met with Chinese government officials in Anchorage last month and reportedly pressed the Xi government to end its practice of coercive exit bans.
“Right now Chinese officials are preventing U.S. citizens who have done nothing wrong from leaving China. This is a gross abuse of power that must be answered,” said Senator Van Hollen, Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “This bipartisan legislation holds the Chinese government accountable and makes clear that there will be continuing consequences if China does not stop abusing the rights of American citizens.”
“The Chinese government’s use of ‘exit bans’ is a gross violation of international human rights norms,” said Senator Markey, Chair of the East Asia Subcommittee on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “Cynthia and Victor Liu, and their mother, Sandra Han, three of my constituents and all American citizens, have been unjustly prevented from leaving China since June 2018. Cynthia and Victor are two promising young people have had their lives put on hold while being forced to remain in a country where they face regular surveillance, harassment, and threats from Chinese authorities. This legislation will hold accountable those Chinese authorities who participate in this sinister practice.”
“It is immoral and unjust that Beijing continues to use so-called ‘exit bans’ to prevent American citizens from leaving the PRC. We must ensure Americans can return home safely when they travel abroad,” said Senator Rubio. “I am proud to once again join my colleagues in reintroducing this important bipartisan bill, which will ensure accountability from those individuals involved in violating the rights of American citizens.”
“China’s use of exit bans on my constituents and other American citizens must end,” Senator Warren said. “I’m glad to partner with Senator Markey on a bill that would hold the Chinese government accountable for this unjust policy.”
A copy of the legislation can be found HERE.
Specifically, the legislation:
- Denies or revokes visas of Chinese officials involved in the planning and execution of the “exit ban” policy
- Requires regular reporting from the executive branch to Congress on the number of Chinese officials for whom visas have been denied or revoked
- Requires the State Department to publicly report on the number of Americans who are being barred from leaving China by the “exit ban” policy
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