China - Consular Information Sheet
December 27, 2000
COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: The People's Republic of China was
established on October 1, 1949, with Beijing as its capital city.
With well over one billion citizens, China is the world's most
populous country. It is also the third largest country in terms
of territory, bordering most Asian countries and Russia. China
is undergoing rapid, profound economic and social growth and development.
Political power remains centralized in the Chinese Communist Party.
Modern tourist facilities are available in major cities.
ENTRY/EXIT REQUIREMENTS: Passports
and visas are required. Americans arriving without valid passports
and Chinese visas are generally not permitted to enter China and
may also be subject to fines. Please do not rely on Chinese host
organizations claiming to be able to arrange visa issuance upon
arrival. Visas are required to transit China, even if one is only
changing flights at an airport. Persons transiting China on the
way to and from Mongolia or North Korea or who plan to re-enter
from the Hong Kong or Macau Special Administrative Regions should
be sure to obtain Chinese visas with sufficient entries. Permits
are required to visit Tibet as well as many remote areas not normally
open to foreigners. Long-haul flights departing China are routinely
overbooked, making reconfirmation of departure reservations and
early airport check-in essential. Passengers must pay a RMB 90
airport user fee (approximately US$10) when departing from airports
in China on flights to all foreign destinations as well as Hong
Kong and Macau. For information about entry requirements and restricted
areas, travelers may consult the Embassy of the People's Republic
of China (PRC) at 2300 Connecticut Avenue N.W., Washington. D.C.
20008, or call tel. (1-202) 328-2500 through 2502. For more information
regarding PRC visas, please contact the Embassy's visa section
at telephone (1-202) 328-2517 between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. There
are also Chinese Consulates General in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles,
New York, and San Francisco. Americans have also generally been
able to obtain visas from the Chinese visa office in Hong Kong
and the Embassy of the People's Republic of China in Seoul, South
Korea. Americans who overstay or otherwise violate the terms of
their Chinese visas will be subject to fines and departure delays
and may be prevented from returning to China.
DUAL NATIONALITY: China does not recognize dual nationality.
The Nationality Law of China holds that persons lose their Chinese
citizenship, if they voluntarily take a foreign citizenship (naturalize).
Some U.S. citizens who are also Chinese nationals (mostly U.S.-born
children of Chinese students) have experienced difficulty entering
and departing China on U.S. passports. In some cases, such dual
nationals are required to use Chinese travel documents to depart
China. Normally this causes inconvenience but no significant problems
for affected persons; however, in child custody disputes, the
ability of dual national children to depart from China could be
affected. Chinese "Travel Permits" (Luxingzheng), usually
issued to American-born U.S. citizen children of Chinese citizens,
are essentially one-way permits that allow entry into China but
do not permit the holder to depart. Persons holding Chinese "Travel
Permits" are regarded as Chinese citizens by Chinese authorities.
In addition to being subject to all Chinese laws affecting U.S.
citizens, dual nationals may also be subject to other laws that
impose special obligations on Chinese citizens. In some cases,
such dual nationals are required to use Chinese documentation
to enter China, in which case U.S. consular access and protection
will be denied. (Similarly, the United States requires that all
U.S. citizens enter and depart the United States on U.S. passports.)
Dual nationals who enter and depart China using a U.S. passport
and a valid PRC visa retain the right of U.S. consular access
and protection under the U.S.-PRC Consular Convention. The ability
of the U.S. Embassy or Consulates General to provide normal consular
services would be extremely limited should a dual national enter
China on a Chinese or other non-U.S. travel document, including
PRC documents issued to persons from Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau.
If one or both parents of a child are PRC nationals who have
not permanently settled in another country, then China regards
the child as a PRC national and does not recognize any other citizenship
the child may acquire at birth, including U.S. citizenship. This
is true regardless of where the child is born. Such children are
required to enter and depart China on PRC travel documents. Although
Chinese consulates have frequently issued visas to such individuals
in error, they are treated solely as PRC nationals by Chinese
authorities when in China. Specific questions on dual nationality
may be directed to the Office of Overseas Citizens Services, Department
of State, Room 4811A, Washington. D.C. 20520 or to the U.S. Embassy
or one of the U.S. Consulates General in China. For additional
information, please see the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page on the Internet at http://travel.state.gov
Dual Nationality flyer.
SAFETY AND SECURITY: Americans visiting or residing in
China, as well as tour group operators, are advised to observe
normal safety precautions. Specifically, travelers should check
that fire exits are unlocked and free from obstructions in hotels,
restaurants, theaters, and shopping centers. In light of the greatly
increased numbers of older Americans traveling to China with tour
groups, U.S. tour operators should check that local guides are
familiar with medical facilities, carry fire extinguishers, cellular
telephones, and first-aid kits on board tour buses, and are trained
in CPR and first aid. Please see also the section below with information
on crime in China. Chinese security personnel may at times place
under surveillance foreign government officials, journalists,
and business people with access to advanced proprietary technology.
Hotel rooms and personal computing devices for these categories
of visitors are sometimes searched. Terrorism is rare in China,
although a small number of bombings and incidents of unrest have
occurred in Beijing and in other areas inhabited primarily by
CRIME: Overall, China is a safe country, with a low but
increasing crime rate. Pickpockets target tourists at sightseeing
destinations and in stores, often with the complicity of low-paid
security guards. Violence against foreigners occurs, but it is
rare. In 1999 and 2000, two Chinese-Americans were killed in separate,
violent incidents at nightclubs, one in Qingdao and the other
in Beijing. Another American man, also of Chinese heritage, was
found dead with his local associate in an apartment in Chengdu
(Sichuan), apparently stabbed by robbers. This number of violent
incidents against Americans is very low on a worldwide basis,
but such incidents do occur. The Department of State advises Americans
of Asian heritage to identify themselves as U.S. citizens when
confronted with an unstable or threatening situation, and to make
clear that they intend to contact the U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Other robberies, sometimes at gunpoint, have occurred in western
Sichuan, especially at Kangding and Ganzi. There have been some
reports of robberies and assaults along remote highways near China's
border with Nepal and in areas of Mt. Everest. Throughout China,
women outside hotels in tourist districts frequently use the prospect
of companionship or sex to lure foreign men to isolated locations
where accomplices are waiting for the purpose of robbery. In three
recent incidents in Hunan, Henan, and Tianjin, American managers
have been held hostage and threatened by dissatisfied Chinese
factory workers in labor disputes. Hotel guests should refuse
to open their room doors to anyone they do not know personally.
Sexual assaults in China reported by American women usually involve
acquaintances rather than strangers.
American visitors to China should carry their passports with
them out of reach of pickpockets. Americans with Chinese residence
permits (juliuzheng) should carry these, and may leave their passports
in a secure location except when traveling. All Americans are
encouraged to make photocopies of their passport bio-data pages
and Chinese visas and to keep these in a separate, secure location.
The loss or theft of a U.S. passport should be reported immediately
to the police in the city where the loss occurs as well as to
the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate general. Americans who give
away or sell their passport in China are liable to arrest and
prosecution in both China and in the United States. For useful
information on safeguarding valuables, protecting personal security,
and ways to promote a trouble-free journey while traveling abroad,
U.S. citizens may refer to the Department of State's pamphlet,
A Safe Trip Abroad. This
is available by mail from the
Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office,
Washington, D.C. 20402 or via the Internet at http://www.access.gpo.gov/su_docs,
or via the
Bureau of Consular Affairs home page at http://travel.state.gov.
MEDICAL FACILITIES: In order to assure quality medical
care for high-ranking government officers, please select hospitals
in major Chinese cities have so-called VIP wards (gaogan bingfang).
These feature reasonably up-to-date medical technology and physicians
who are both knowledgeable and skilled. Most of these VIP wards
also provide medical services to foreigners, feature English-speaking
doctors and nurses, and may even accept credit cards for payment.
Even in the VIP/Foreigner wards of major hospitals, however, American
patients have frequently encountered difficulty due to cultural
and regulatory differences. Physicians and hospitals have sometimes
refused to supply American patients with complete copies of their
Chinese hospital medical records, including laboratory test results,
scans, and x-rays. Physicians have also frequently discouraged
Americans from obtaining second opinions from outside physicians.
Hospitals have sometimes been reluctant to release patients for
medical evacuation in cases where they would prefer to keep the
patient for an extended stay. Ambulances do not carry sophisticated
medical equipment, and ambulance personnel generally have little
or no medical training. Therefore, injured or seriously ill Americans
should take taxis or other immediately available vehicles to the
nearest major hospital rather than waiting for ambulances to arrive.
In rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are generally
available. Medical personnel in rural areas are often poorly trained
and are often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating
foreigners, even in emergency situations.
Foreign-operated medical providers catering to expatriates and
visitors are available, though their services are usually considerably
more expensive than hospitals and clinics operated by local government
health authorities. SOS International, Ltd., operates clinics
and provides medical evacuation and medical escort services in
several Chinese cities. For medical emergencies anywhere in mainland
China, Americans can call the SOS International, Ltd., 24-hour
"Alarm Center" in Beijing at (86-10) 64629100 or in
Shanghai at (86-21) 62950099 for advice and referrals to local
facilities. SOS International Alarm Centers can also be contacted
in Hong Kong at (852) 24289900 and in the United States at (1-800)
The Australian firm, GlobalDoctor,
Ltd., has opened clinics staffed by English-speaking doctors
within the VIP wards of government-run hospitals in Chengdu, Nanjing,
and Beijing and plans to open additional facilities within several
months in Xian and Shenzhen. GlobalDoctor can be reached by telephone
from China at (61-8) 92263088 or on the Internet at http://www.eglobaldoctor.com.
Additional information on medical providers specializing in treating
foreigners, including dental and orthodontic clinics, is available
Embassy web page at http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn.
The Department of State brochure, Tips
for Travelers to the People's Republic of China, contains
additional information concerning medical care in China. This
brochure is available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S.
Government Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20402.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: Americans are
advised not to travel to China without both health insurance and
medical evacuation insurance (often included in so-called "travel"
insurance and provided as part of a tour group package). U.S.
medical insurance is not always valid outside the United States.
The Medicare/Medicaid program does not provide payment for medical
services outside the United States. Even when insurance does cover
services received in China, it will usually be necessary to pay
first and then file for reimbursement with the insurance company
upon returning to the United States. Supplemental insurance with
specific overseas coverage, including provision for medical evacuation,
is strongly recommended and can be purchased in the United States
prior to travel. Please check with your own insurance company
to confirm whether your policy applies overseas, and whether it
includes a provision for medical evacuation. Please ascertain
whether payment will be made to the overseas hospital or doctor,
or whether you will be reimbursed later for expenses that you
incur. Some insurance policies also include coverage for psychiatric
treatment and for disposition of remains in the event of death.
Recent medical evacuations by air ambulance from China to nearby
areas have cost over US $50,000. Two private emergency medical
assistance firms, SOS International, Ltd., and Medex Assistance
Corporation, offer medical insurance policies designed for travelers
and also have staff in China who can assist in the event of a
medical emergency. (Disclaimer: The U.S. Department of State provides
this information as a service to U.S. citizens but cannot specifically
recommend any medical assistance firm or guarantee the quality
of services offered by private companies.):
(formerly known in some areas as Asia Emergency Assistance)
Beijing Clinic address: Building C, BITIC Leasing Center
No. 1 North Road, Xingfu Sancun, Sanlitun, Chaoyang District,
Beijing SOS International Clinic, telephone: (86-10) 6462-9112,
Fax (86-10) 6462-9111
For medical emergencies, please call the SOS International Alarm
Center at (86-10) 6462-9100 from anywhere in Mainland China,
From Hong Kong: call (852) 2428-9900
From the U.S.: 1-800-468-5232. These phone lines are answered
24 hours by SOS International Alarm Center personnel. For information
on purchasing health or travel insurance from SOS International,
please contact (1-800) 523-6586 (8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Eastern
Time, Monday through Friday) in the U.S. or visit http://www.intsos.com
on the Internet. SOS accepts major credit cards. SOS International
has correspondent arrangements with hospitals in several Chinese
cities. Persons in China should first call the Alarm Center in
Beijing at (86-10)6462-9100.
Regus Office 19, Beijing Lufthansa Center
No. 50 Liangmaqiao Road, Chaoyang District
Emergency telephone in China (24-hour): (86-10) 6465-1264
Beijing Office Fax: (86-10) 6465-1240 or (86-10) 6465-1269
U.S. telephone: (1-800) 537-2029 or(1-410) 453-6300 (24 hours)
Emergencies (members only): (1-800) 527-0218 or (1-410) 453-6330
Web site: http://www.medexassist.com
Useful information on medical emergencies abroad, including overseas
insurance programs, is provided in the Department of State's,
Bureau of Consular Affairs brochure, Medical
Information for Americans Traveling Abroad, available via
the Bureau of Consular Affairs home page, or autofax: 1-202 647-3000.
OTHER HEALTH INFORMATION: Most roads and towns in Tibet,
Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are situated at
altitudes over 10,000 feet. Travelers should seek medical advice
in advance of travel, allow time for acclimatization to the high
altitude, and remain alert to signs of altitude sickness.
Alcoholics Anonymous can be reached in Beijing at telephone (86-10)
6437-6305, or visit the U.S. Embassy web page in advance of travel
to China for additional contact numbers.
Information on vaccinations and other health precautions may
be obtained from the
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's hotline for international
travelers at 1-877-FYI-TRIP (1-877-394-8747); fax 1-888-CDC-FAXX
(1-888-232-3299), or via the CDC's Internet site at http://www.cdc.gov.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in a foreign
country, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ
significantly from those in the United States. The information
below concerning the People's Republic of China is provided for
general reference only, and may not be totally accurate in a particular
location or circumstance.
Road/traffic conditions are generally safe for occupants of modern
passenger vehicles wearing seatbelts. Most traffic accident injuries
involve pedestrians or cyclists who are involved in collisions
or who encounter unexpected road hazards (e.g., unmarked open
manholes). Foreigners with resident permits can apply for PRC
driver licenses; however, liability issues often make it preferable
to employ a local driver. Three American traffic-related deaths
have been recorded in the past five years in China, including
one case involving an unrestrained infant. Child safety seats
are not widely available. Americans who wish to ride bicycles
in China are urged to wear safety helmets meeting U.S. standards.
Safety of Public Transportation: Good
Urban Road Conditions/Maintenance: Good
Rural Road Conditions/Maintenance: Fair
Availability of Roadside Assistance: Fair
For additional general information
about road safety, including links to foreign government sites,
please see the Department of State, Bureau of Consular Affairs
home page at http://travel.state.gov/road_safety.html.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration
(FAA) has assessed the civil aviation authority of the government
of the People's Republic of China as Category 1 - in compliance
with international aviation safety standards for oversight of
China's air carrier operations. For further information, travelers
may contact the Department of Transportation within the U.S. at
telephone (1-800) 322-7873, or visit the
FAA's Internet web site at http://www.faa.gov/avr/iasa/.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) separately assesses some
foreign air carriers for suitability as official providers of
air services. For information regarding the DOD policy on specific
carriers, travelers may contact the DOD at telephone (1-618) 229-4801.
CUSTOMS REGULATIONS: Chinese customs authorities may enforce
strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export
from China of items such as antiquities, banned publications,
vehicles not conforming to Chinese standards, or items exceeding
personal use requirements or incompatible with status (e.g., tourists
bringing professional-model video cameras). Information concerning
regulations and procedures governing items that may be brought
into China is available through the Chinese Embassy and Consulates
in the United States. Students may bring into China only a limited
number of items that are considered necessary for study and daily
life. Some U.S. citizens residing in China have been required
to pay customs duty on certain high-value items when departing
China because procedures were not followed when the items were
originally brought into China. Additional information concerning
Chinese Customs regulations is contained in the Department of
State brochure, Tips
for Travelers to the People's Republic of China, which is
available from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S. Government
Printing Office, Washington, D.C. 20420.
Chinese customs officials encourage the use of an ATA (Admission
Temporaire/Temporary Admission) Carnet for the temporary admission
of professional equipment, commercial samples, and/or goods for
exhibitions and fair purposes. ATA Carnet Headquarters, located
at the U.S. Council
for International Business, 1212 Avenue of the Americas, New
York, NY 10036, issues and guarantees the ATA Carnet in the United
States. For additional information, please call telephone (212)
354-4480, or send e-mail
to email@example.com or visit http://www.uscib.org for details.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While in a foreign country, a U.S.
citizen is subject to that country's laws and regulations, which
sometimes differ significantly from those in the United States
and do not afford the protections available to the individual
under U.S. law.
Americans in China who are not staying at hotels, including Americans
who are staying with friends or relatives, must register with
local police. Criminal cases often take over a year to bring to
trial in China. Americans are rarely granted bail. Criminal punishments,
especially prison terms, are more severe than in the United States.
Persons violating the law, even unknowingly, may be expelled,
arrested or imprisoned. Criminal penalties for possession, use,
or trafficking of illegal drugs are strict, and convicted offenders
can expect severe jail sentences and fines. Foreigners have been
executed for drug offenses. Two U.S. citizens are currently in
Chinese prisons pursuant to convictions on drug offenses; one
was sentenced to death in 1998 with a two-year reprieve on a conviction
of drug dealing. Several Americans currently incarcerated in China
have been implicated in financial fraud schemes involving falsified
banking or business documents. Four Americans are incarcerated
in China for alien smuggling offenses. Americans have also been
detained, fined, and expelled from China several times in the
past year for activities on behalf of organizations that have
been designated as religious cults by the Chinese authorities.
CONSULAR ACCESS: The U.S.-PRC Consular Convention of 1980
provides that detained U.S. citizens have the right to contact
a U.S. consular officer, that U.S. consular officers shall be
notified within four days whenever an American is taken into custody,
and that a consular officer may visit detained Americans. Note,
however, that U.S. consular officers do not always receive timely
notification of the arrest of a U.S. citizen. U.S. citizens who
are arrested or detained should request contact with the U.S.
Embassy or one of the U.S. Consulates General. As explained in
the section on Dual Nationality found earlier in this document,
China does not recognize dual nationality. Naturalized U.S. citizens
who enter China on Chinese passports or PRC-issued Hong Kong or
Taiwan travel documents can be denied access to U.S. consular
officials. The U.S. Government strongly recommends that all Americans
enter China using only American passports containing Chinese visas.
TRAVEL TO TIBET - It is possible to make travel arrangements
to Tibet from outside of China. Once in China, travelers wishing
to visit Tibet must join a group, which can be arranged by almost
any Chinese travel agency. The travel agency will arrange for
the necessary permits and collect any fees. The Chinese Government
requires foreigners (including U.S. citizens) wishing to visit
Tibet to apply in advance for approval from the Tourist Administration
of the Tibetan Autonomous Region. More information is available
from the Chinese Embassy or one of the Chinese consulates in the
United States, or, while in China, from the U.S. Embassy or nearest
U.S. Consulate General. (Please see the above section on ENTRY
REQUIREMENTS.) Recently, some Americans with long-term Chinese
visas have experienced difficulty obtaining permits to visit Tibet.
ENGLISH TEACHERS/SECONDARY SCHOOL TEACHERS - Americans
considering teaching English in China should check that their
contracts specify the maximum number of classroom hours per day
and per week, maximum work days per week, and vacation periods.
Americans teaching in China, particularly at newly established
private secondary schools and private English training centers,
have often found their employers unable or unwilling to honor
contract terms or to assist in obtaining Chinese employment-based
visas and other permits required for foreigners to teach lawfully
in China. Health insurance provided by Chinese employers should
be supplemented as described above. (Please see the section on
DISASTER PREPAREDNESS: Some areas of China frequented
by Americans, notably Yunnan Province, are prone to earthquakes.
Coastal areas of Hainan, Guangdong, Fujian, and Zhejiang provinces
are subject to typhoons during the summer rainy season. General
information about natural disaster preparedness is available via
the Internet from the
U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) at http://www.fema.gov.
DOCUMENT SEIZURES: Chinese authorities have seized documents,
literature, and letters that they deem to be pornographic, political
in nature, or intended for religious proselytism. Persons seeking
to enter China with religious materials in a quantity deemed to
be greater than that needed for personal use may be detained and
fined. Books, films, records, tapes, and compact disks may be
seized by Chinese customs authorities to determine that they do
not violate Chinese prohibitions. Individuals believed to be engaged
in religious proselytism or in conduct Chinese officials consider
immoral or inappropriate have been detained and expelled.
PASSPORT CONFISCATION: PRC authorities occasionally confiscate
passports and levy exit bans against persons involved in commercial
or other disputes. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate General will
make inquiries with local authorities to attempt to ensure that
the U.S. citizen's rights under the U.S. - China Bilateral Consular
Convention are honored. The individual usually is not taken into
custody, but is sometimes confined to a hotel or other facility
until the dispute is resolved. The U.S. Embassy or Consulate General
will issue another passport to any U.S. citizen who applies for
one under these circumstances; however, even with a new U.S. passport,
Chinese authorities will often block departure by refusing to
provide a visa for exit purposes.
CHILDREN'S ISSUES: For information
on international adoption of children and international parental
child abduction, please refer to our Internet site at http://travel.state.gov/children's_issues.html
or telephone (1-202) 736-7000.
REGISTRATION/EMBASSY AND CONSULATE LOCATIONS: U.S. citizens
other than tourists at major hotels are encouraged to register
at the U.S. Embassy or at one of the U.S. Consulates General in
China. They may also obtain updated information on travel and
security within the country at the Embassy or Consulates General.
It is also possible to register from the United States via the
Internet through the
U.S. Embassy's home page at http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn.
Beijing: The U.S. Embassy in China is located at 2 Xiu Shui Dong
Jie, Beijing 100600, telephone: (86-10) 6532-3431, 6532-3831,
and after-hours: (86-10) 6532-1910; fax (86-10) 6532-4153, 6532-3178.
The U.S. Embassy Internet address is http://www.usembassy-china.org.cn.
The Embassy consular district includes the following provinces/regions
of China: Beijing, Tianjin, Shandong, Shanxi, Inner Mongolia,
Ningxia, Shaanxi, Qinghai, Xinjiang, Hebei, Henan, Hubei, Hunan,
Chengdu: The U.S. Consulate General in Chengdu is located at Number
4, Lingshiguan Road, Section 4, Renmin Nanlu, Chengdu 610041,
telephone: (86-28) 558-3992, 555-3119;fax (86-28) 558-3520; after-hours
(86-0) 13708001422. This consular district includes the following
provinces/regions of China: Guizhou, Sichuan Xizang (Tibet), and
Yunnan, as well as the municipality of Chongqing.
Guangzhou: The U.S. Consulate General in Guangzhou is located
at Number 1 South Shamian Street, Shamian Island 200S1, Guangzhou
510133; telephone: (86-20) 8188-8911 ext. 255 or (86-20) 8186-2418;
after-hours: (86-0) 13902203169; fax: (86-20) 8186-2341. This
consular district includes the following provinces/regions of
China: Guangdong, Guangxi, Hainan, and Fujian.
Shanghai: The U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai is located at
1469 Huaihai Zhonglu, Shanghai 200031 telephone: (86-21) 6433-6880,
after-hours: (86-21) 6433-3936; fax: (86-21) 6433-4122, 6471-1148.
This consular district includes the following provinces/regions
of China: Shanghai, Anhui, Jiangsu, and Zhejiang.
Shenyang: The U.S. Consulate General in Shenyang is located at
No. 52, 14th Wei Road, Heping District, Shenyang 110003, telephone:
(86-24) 2322-1198, 2322-0368; after-hours: (86-0) 13704019790;
fax (86-24) 2322-2374. This consular district includes the following
provinces/regions of China: Liaoning, Heilongjiang, and Jilin.
This replaces the Consular Information Sheet dated September
14, 1999, to remove Y2K-related information, and to provide a
comprehensive update of areas of concern for Americans traveling
to or living in China.