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China warns its citizens: Travel to U.S. carries high-cost risks

New travel warning system

China is warning its citizens about traveling to the U.S. this summer, citing damage to the pocketbook from America's high medical costs as well as personal safety. 

The warning, issued by the Chinese Embassy in Washington last week, says Chinese citizens should be aware that medical treatment is expensive in the U.S. The embassy also highlighted the "frequent" occurrences of robbery, theft and gun violence, as well as importance of guarding against the powers wielded by Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents.

The warning comes as trade tensions mount between the two countries. President Donald Trump last month imposed a 25 percent tariff on $50 billion of goods from China, which the administration said was "in light of China's ... unfair trade practices," and has proposed another $200 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports. In response, China has vowed to retaliate with its own tariffs. 

In Beijing, Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said Tuesday that China's government was merely fulfilling its duty to warn travelers of "potential dangers."

Chinese tourism is increasingly important to the U.S. economy, with Chinese tourists representing the third-largest group of visitors to the U.S. in 2016 after the U.K. and Japan, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Yet Chinese tourists far outspend any other nationality, shelling out $33.2 billion in annual tourism-related spending, the group said. 

About 3 million Chinese tourists visited the U.S. in 2016, an increase of 15 percent from the prior year.