Chinese state firms told to shun trips to US

An American flag seen in front of the Manhattan skyline in New York City, on Jan 10, 2019.
An American flag seen in front of the Manhattan skyline in New York City, on Jan 10, 2019. PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING • China asked some state-run enterprises to avoid business trips to the United States and its allies and to take extra precautions to protect their devices if they need to travel, according to people familiar with the request.

In recent weeks, the State-owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission (SASAC) - a regulatory body that oversees about 100 government-run companies - has told some firms to take only secure, company-issued laptops meant for overseas use if travelling is necessary, the people said.

They said the warning also extended to the other countries in the Five Eyes intelligence-sharing pact: Britain, Canada, Australia and New Zealand.

The people also said employees have been asked to have the company verify which files they are carrying on any trip and store them only on secure USB drives, adding that the SASAC did not specify how long the travel rules will apply.

Chinese and American executives have become more cautious when travelling after the arrest last month of Huawei chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou in Canada on behalf of the US, and the subsequent detention of two Canadian citizens in China.

Tensions between Beijing and Ottawa have also risen after a Chinese court sentenced a Canadian man to death for drug trafficking after a one-day retrial.

Canada and China have both issued travel alerts, against each other, to their citizens.

 
 

"As long as foreigners, including Canadians, abide by the law, their freedom and safety is guaranteed," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hua Chunying told reporters at a regular briefing in Beijing yesterday.

"It is Canada, not China, that is arbitrarily detaining foreign citizens under the guise of the law."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 16, 2019, with the headline 'Chinese state firms told to shun trips to US'. Print Edition | Subscribe