Travel troubles: China warns citizens of possible dangers in U.S.

World Today

Summer is the time to travel, and for many Chinese this means a visit to the U.S. Millions make the journey every year, but China is warning they should be on the look-out for possible problems.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

The Chinese Embassy in Washington is warning Chinese tourists planning to visit the U.S. (and Chinese nationals already in the country) to take extra-precautions during the peak summer holidays.

A statement posted on the Embassy’s website advises them to:

  • Buy travel health insurance in advance, because medical expenses in the U.S. can be very costly.
  • Avoid going out alone at night, because as the warning says: “shootings, robbery and theft are frequent.”
  • Know what to do in case of a natural disaster.
  • Follow customs rules at the U.S. border, and know that they may be inspected.
  • Obey all American laws and comply with law enforcement.
  • Plus be cautious of fraud and know when, and how, to call the authorities.

This is not the first time China has issued such a warning. In Beijing, officials denied suggestions that the timing was tied to trade tensions with Washington.

“China’s Foreign Ministry, overseas embassies and consulates have an obligation to warn Chinese citizens who are going abroad about the potential risks in the country or the regions that Chinese nationals are traveling to,” according to Lu Kang, a spokesman at the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

Near the White House in Washington, Mr. Lu from Guangzhou in southern China said his family knew about the warning, but still decided to come.

“We discussed it with our friends,” Lu said. “But now that we are here, we see how peaceful it is. Yes, there are protests, but they are orderly.”

Another tourist, Wu Yin, was rushing to a museum, having just arrived from Shanghai with her son and mother. It’s their first time in the United States. Ms. Wu admits she didn’t know about the warning ahead of time, but says those types of things can happen anywhere.

“Safety in the United States has been a problem for a long time,” she said. “But it’s no use to worry to about it.”

Chinese tourists are a desired commodity. They now they make up the world’s largest share of the travel market. In the U.S. alone, Chinese tourists spent more than $30 billion last year.

“This is yet another example of how integrated the U.S. economy is with the Chinese economy,” according to Afhsin Molavi, a Senior Fellow at the Johns Hopkins SAIS Foreign Policy Institute. “And if we do see a slowdown in tourism, it will hit the bottom line of hotels, shopping malls, and tour operators in the United States.”

Just a decade ago, around half a million Chinese tourists visited the U.S. every year.  Now more than three million are coming. A recent poll showed that half consider safety when deciding where to go. It’s unclear exactly if any are now reconsidering.