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China - Local Laws and Customs

It pays to know before you go!

Posted on 17. March, 2014

The Chinese criminal justice system differs greatly from the UK’s. Police have the power to arrest, detain or withhold your passport if you are suspected of a crime. Suspects may be detained for weeks or months before charges are laid or given a travel ban preventing them from leaving China. Courts don’t generally grant foreigners bail. Travel bans can also be imposed on people involved in private or business disputes.

Some lawyers may be reluctant to accept cases involving foreigners. Contact the British Embassy or Consulate if you experience such difficulties.
There are severe penalties in China for drugs offences including the death penalty. A British national was executed in China for a drugs offence in December 2009. Other foreign nationals have been sentenced to death in China for drugs offences since then.
China doesn’t recognise dual nationality. If you enter China on a Chinese passport or identity card, the British Embassy may not be able to offer consular assistance. Any person born in China to a Chinese national parent will be considered by the Chinese authorities to have Chinese nationality. Travellers holding British passports who also hold Chinese citizenship may be regarded by the Chinese authorities as a Chinese citizen, even if you travel to China on a British passport. If you have formally renounced Chinese citizenship, you should carry clear evidence that you have done so.
Foreign nationals over 16 years of age must carry their passport with them at all times. Police carry out random checks, especially during periods of heightened security and major sporting or political events. Failure to produce your ID can lead to a fine or detention.   If you renew your passport while you’re in China, you must register your new passport with the authorities promptly or face a fine.
The Chinese authorities maintain controls on internet access. Websites like Facebook, Youtube and Twitter are blocked. Other websites or e-mail services (especially Google and Gmail) are blocked from time to time.  
Gambling is illegal in mainland China.
There are restrictions on certain religious activities, including preaching and distributing religious materials. The Falun Gong movement is banned in China.
Homosexuality is not illegal although there are no specific laws in place to protect the rights of LGBT people. You can find information on LGBT life in China on the British Embassy website.