U.S. Embassy in Beijing has issued a "Security Alert – Heightened Risk of Arbitrary Detention."
In Part: "Event: Exercise increased caution in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws for purposes other than maintaining law and order. This arbitrary enforcement may include detention and the use of exit bans."
U.S. citizens may be detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subjected to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the PRC government."
Xiefei: "if China just signed up for the apostille system"
I have understood that it isn't so much that China wouldn't want to sign it, but various obligations that other countries would put on China in order to recognize China's apostille.
Many countries more recently signed into the convention also face some bilateral exceptions, that their apostille is not recognized by individual states.
This applies in particular to countries that could be considered to still be developing their legal and regulatory systems. China is no stranger to such hurdles.
The country would take it as quite a slap on the face, if it signed to it only to find that almost every country will not recognize it's apostille anyway.
I'm going to stray back to the original topic of "Proof we can't leave".
I made my monthly visit to the PSB this morning for yet another visa. Last month they had requested that I write a letter about why I wished to extend my stay.
I included that in my paperwork today and as a final paragraph indicated that I had searched for flights but couldn't find one.
That was all.
They asked for nothing further.
Total time at the PSB was about 5 minutes.