The US State Department has listed Hong Kong as one of the places where Americans are at risk of wrongful detention as it introduces a new risk indicator for its travel advisories.

Travellers arrive Hong Kong. Photo: Rachel Wong/HKFP.

The White House slapped its wrongful detention or “D” indicator on China, Myanmar, Iran, North Korea, Russia, and Venezuela on Tuesday. The separate Hong Kong travel advisory also carries the “D” designation.

“Exercise increased caution due to wrongful detentions,” the State Department says in an updated Hong Kong travel advisory.

It adds: “US citizens traveling or residing in the PRC (People’s Republic of China), including the Hong Kong SAR, may be detained without access to US consular services or information about their alleged crime.”

The department had already put Hong Kong on a level 4 – Do Not Travel – alert due to Covid-19 risks and “arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

US Department of State. Photo: US Department of State.

The new risk indicator came after the high-profile case of American basketball player Brittney Griner, who has been detained in Russia for months for allegedly possessing marijuana concentrate hashish oil in her luggage. The Biden administration has classified the detention as wrongful but has been under fire for not doing more to bring Griner home.

Despite being given a “D” indicator, China remained in the third level of the State Department’s travel alert, which calls on American citizens to “reconsider travel.” The advisory cited Covid-19 restrictions, as well as arbitrary law enforcement.

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Almond Li

Almond Li is a Hong Kong-based journalist who previously worked for Reuters and Happs TV as a freelancer, and as a reporter at Hong Kong International Business Channel, Citizen News and Commercial Radio Hong Kong. She earned her Masters in Journalism at the University of Southern California. She has an interest in LGBT+, mental health and environmental issues.