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Business Travel to China—Risky Business

Last month, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported on the challenges business executives could face when traveling to China.


There have been more and more incidents of executives doing business in China being detained. This is becoming a more and more alarming trend.

One of the more prominent examples is the Kroll executive, who has not been able to leave since September 29th.

Two weeks ago, news broke that the Chinese government formally arrested a Japanese drug manufacturing executive who had been detained since March.


At the very least, Dale Buckner, CEO of Global Guardian, a private security firm is quoted in the WSJ as saying executives could face questioning for two to five hours at a mainland China airport or hotel.

China’s expanded national security law is increasing the risk for visiting business executives to be questioned and/or detained.


Here are a few steps to consider taking if travel to China is necessary, as reported in the WSJ article:

Companies should retain a security service to conduct background screening of the employee with a focus on things such as:

  • Prior military service
  • Dual nationalities, or
  • Politically sensitive social media content by employees, such as decoupling or criticism of local companies

A persistent reminder over the last few years is for employees to leave their phone and computers home and use wiped-clean-computers and burner phones.

Travel with a group if possible.


Here is the U.S. State Department Advisory regarding travel to China announced on June 3rd of this year:

“Reconsider travel to Mainland China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws, including in relation to exit bans, and the risk of wrongful detentions.

“Exercise increased caution when traveling to the Hong Kong SAR due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws.”

As Tammy Krings, CEO of ATG Travel Worldwide puts it in the WSJ, “’I would advise mission-critical travel only.’”

That’s sound advice.

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Ron Alvarez is an IP investigations and protection consultant and writer in New York City. He is a former NYPD lieutenant where he investigated robbery, narcotics, internal affairs, and fine art theft cases. Ron has since coordinated the private investigation of international fraud and money laundering cases, as well as IP-related investigations and research involving the four pillars of IP: copyright, patents, trademarks, and trade secrets. Ron is a graduate of the FBI National Academy and earned a B.A. in Government and Public Administration from John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan. He has written a number of articles for various investigative publications, as well as published "The World of Intellectual Property (IP) Protection and Investigations" in November 2021.

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