Sewing a Canadian flag on your backpack is generally considered a fast-track to hospitality around the world.
Following the federal government’s ongoing diplomatic row with China, however, that may no longer be the case for Canadians in the People’s Republic.
Relations between the two countries have become increasingly hostile since the end of 2018. It all started when Canadian police detained a high-ranking executive employed by the Chinese telecom giant Huawei. The arrest was made on behalf of U.S. authorities, who were seeking to extradite and charge the suspect for violating American sanctions against Iran.
Tensions moved up and to the right over the past month. Then, another story escalated things dramatically.
Earlier this week, a Canadian man received a death sentence after Chinese authorities accused him of smuggling almost 500 points of narcotics through the country. The decision came after he initially received a 15-year prison sentence, a ruling Chinese prosecutors felt was too light.
Now, the Canadian government has urged travellers to “exercise a high degree of caution in China due to the risk of arbitrary enforcement of local laws.” It is the third-highest category of travel advisory after “avoid all travel” and “avoid non-essential travel.”
— travel.gc.ca (@TravelGoC) January 14, 2019
The decision to travel is your choice and you are responsible for your personal safety abroad,” reads a statement by the Government of Canada. “We take the safety and security of Canadians abroad very seriously and provide credible and timely information in our Travel Advice to enable you to make well-informed decisions regarding your travel abroad.”
China now finds itself among the ranks of countries like perennial danger zone Haiti, Nicaragua, which is on the brink of civil war, and… the Netherlands, which is apparently facing an elevated threat of terrorism.