NEW YORK -- China on Tuesday warned its citizens against travelling to the U.S., citing harassment by immigration officials and frequent shootings, in the latest salvo in the escalating trade war between the two countries.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs issued an alert after reports of harassment by law enforcement, including immigration checks and home visits, ministry official Chen Xiongfeng told a news conference in Beijing.
Separately, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism warned of frequent shootings and violent crimes. Such acts have threatened or harmed the safety and property of Chinese tourists, it said.
Both alerts remain effective until Dec. 31. The U.S. State Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The warnings came the day after the Ministry of Education warned students and scholars that the U.S. has shortened visas and rejected more applications, urging them to reevaluate the risks of studying in the country and make appropriate preparations.
Travelers from China to the U.S. decreased for the first time in a decade and a half to roughly 3 million in 2018, according to data from the Department of Commerce's National Travel and Tourism Office. In addition to trade tensions, concern by Chinese over safety, stricter security policies and airfare worked against American travel, according to tourism research group Destination Analysis.
The Chinese Embassy in Washington also warned citizens last July over U.S. travel, citing such risks as shootings, robberies, high medical bills, seizures by customs agents, and disasters.
Chinese made nearly 150 million outbound trips last year, Culture and Tourism Ministry spokesman Yu Jiannan told a news conference in Beijing.
"So many tourists," the official Xinhua News Agency quoted Yu as saying. "Where do they choose to go? That question depends on both personal preferences and the products of travel agencies."
"I believe Chinese tourists will make a wise choice, based on their own situations and prudent assessments on the safety status," he said.