While you are traveling in China, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. There are also some things that might be legal in the country you visit, but still illegal in the United States. For example, you can be prosecuted under U.S. law if you buy pirated goods. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in China, your U.S. passport will not help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It is very important to know what is legal and what is not wherever you go.
China gives the police the authority to detain and deport foreigners for a wide variety of reasons, including engaging inprohibited religious activities and soliciting prostitutes. If you do not have your passport with you, you may be taken in for questioning. China has strict laws against driving under the influence of alcohol that can lead to immediate detention on a criminal charge.
If you are arrested in China, the U.S.-China Consular Convention requires Chinese authorities to notify the U.S. Embassy or nearest consulate general of your arrest within four days. Typically, the police will not allow anyone other than a consular officer to visit you during your initial detention period, including your family or even an attorney. Bail is rarely granted in China, and you can be subject to detention for many months before being granted a trial. Please see the section on DUAL NATIONALITY for the limits on consular notification and access in the cases of persons who hold dual nationality.