Shootings, theft, harassment: China warns its citizens of travel to the US

Stranger danger.
Stranger danger.
Image: Reuters/Yuri Gripas
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Beware the dangers of the US, including its frequent shootings, robberies, theft, and harassment.

That was the message from China’s foreign ministry (link in Chinese) and its Ministry of Culture and Tourism, issued in separate alerts today (June 4).

The foreign ministry and China’s embassy in Washington issued similar warnings last summer, cautioning travellers about the risks of traveling to the US. “Public security in the United States is not good. Cases of shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent,” read the embassy’s alert.

Yesterday (June 3), the education ministry issued an alert to Chinese students studying in the US, warning them of “visa restrictions, prolonged review times, shortened time validity and a rising rate of visa rejections.” The hashtag (link in Chinese) for the warning has since gone viral on Chinese social media network Weibo, having been viewed some 93.6 million times as of this afternoon.

The flurry of three alerts in two days come as US-China tensions have increased in recent weeks against a backdrop of the continuing trade war, and are likely to further deter Chinese travellers from visiting the US. Chinese tourist numbers to the US fell to their lowest in 15 years in 2018.

Things are not getting easier for Chinese students studying in the US either. Last month, the Chinese Communist Party issued new rules dictating that members who pursue their studies abroad for more than five years will likely be expelled from the party (link in Chinese). But even without these warnings, Chinese students may be cooling on the idea of studying in the US. New research by Mingyu Chen, an economics Ph.D candidate at Princeton University, found that employers in China are more likely to call back job applicants who graduated from Chinese colleges than from US colleges, and applicants from highly selective US institutions actually underperformed their peers from the least selective Chinese institutions.

The US also updated a 2018 travel advisory on China in January, warning Americans about the “arbitrary enforcement of local laws” and “restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.” It added a specific warning regarding “exit bans” imposed by Chinese authorities that can prevent Americans from leaving China “for years.” The update came just several weeks after Huawei CFO Meng Wanzhou was arrested in Canada for extradition to the US.