China’s exit bans multiply as political control tightens under Xi

  • China is increasingly barring people from leaving the country, including foreign executives, a jarring message as the authorities say the country is open for business after three years of tight COVID-19 restrictions.
  • Scores of Chinese and foreigners have been ensnared by exit bans, according to a new report by the rights group Safeguard Defenders.
  • There has also been an apparent surge of court cases involving such bans in recent years, and foreign business lobbies are voicing concern about the trend.
  • China last week beefed up its counter-espionage law, allowing exit bans to be imposed on anyone, Chinese or foreign, who is under investigation.
  • Most of the cases in the database referring to exit bans are civil, not criminal. Reuters did not find any involving foreigners or politically sensitive subversion or national security issues.
  • By comparison, the U.S. and European Union impose travel bans on some criminal suspects but generally not for civil claims.
  • Attention on the exit bans comes as China-U.S. tensions have risen over trade and security disputes. This contrasts with China’s message that it is opening up to overseas investment and travel, emerging from the isolation of some of the world’s tightest COVID curbs.

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