Police presence, friendly Chinese people and security cameras praised by expats
China safety
Published: Feb 28, 2018 07:48 PM
"Is China a safe country?" This is a frequently asked question on social media platforms around the world. China is still a "mysterious middle kingdom" in many foreigners' eyes. Expatriates who have already visited, worked and lived here have the final say in this regard. The Global Times has conducted two video interviews on the streets in Shanghai to see how they feel about the safety issue in China. The latest video was published in February and the previous one in April of 2017.

Safe city

In the first video, 11 interviewees from Britain, Russia, Canada, Spain, the US, Germany, Botswana, Cyprus, Belgium and Croatia unanimously replied to the Global Times that China is a safe country. In the question of "how safe is China compared to your home country?" they responded either China is safer or the same as their home countries. 

"Why do you feel safe in China?" Ban on gun possession, surveillance cameras on streets, police presence, friendly people, and no violence or harassment are the most mentioned reasons. 

An unexpected reply came when asked "what has been your most dangerous experience in China." The interviewees complained about cycling on Shanghai streets and motor vehicle drivers who will not yield to pedestrians or cyclists. Scooters on sidewalks and bicycles not giving way to pedestrians is another point. Only one interviewee said that her violin was stolen, but the local police helped find it.

"What has been the most dangerous experience in your life?" A woman from Botswana said she had been robbed several times and taken hostage in her own home country. A retired British pilot also had a life threatening experience when he was young. A German businessman said that he was stabbed by a person during a beer festival in Germany.

In the latest video, 20 people from Asia, the Americas, Africa and Europe unanimously said that they feel that China is a safe country, safer than they had originally expected.

"Definitely China is a safe country, we have been living here for a few years. We've been traveling very safely everywhere, walking in Shanghai during very late hours at night or in the early morning, never feeling threatened or robbed," Tycho Vos from the Netherlands told the Global Times. Vos' point was echoed by all of our interviewees.

"China is a safe country compared to New York or any other big city that I've been to, especially in Southeast Asia," Paul Eliason from the US told the Global Times.

"In France you get a lot of these unsafe situations at night, especially in some areas in Paris, Lyon, Marseilles and some other big cities, especially for ladies or girls. It's a bit tricky to go out at night, you can get into some troubles," Dash from France said.

In sharp contrast, Carlotta from Spain said that night is a very safe time for kids in Shanghai. "When we children play outside, it's safe. People are really nice to us."

"I can go running in the middle of the night and no one will mug me," Aaron from India echoed.

Police presence

"I've attended public events in Hefei in East China's Anhui Province and Beijing, which have lots of people but are always safe. There is always a police presence," said Grant Van Wyk from South Africa.

Indeed, frequent police and security guard presence is a highlight of China's safety in many foreigners' eyes. 

"In America, when you see the police, you feel scared, but in China it's not like that. I think it's quite safe; I can do anything I want and I don't fear that there's a threat to my life. I'm not white, nor am I Chinese; I'm Indian. But at the same time I haven't faced any kind of discrimination," claimed Aamir, an Indian American.

"I'm wearing some valuables like gold and holding my camera. Even in the hotel I have a lot of valuables left behind. It's all perfectly fine and absolutely safe in China," Umashankar Viswanadha from India told the Global Times.

He continued to say that, "Once when I was in Bangkok, Thailand, I lost my purse. I left it in my hotel room and it was stolen."

"I've been to the police station here in Shanghai. They've been really helpful and are really nice," said Kristian Kvam Hansen from Norway.

"As you can see, there are lots of video cameras everywhere and many security personnel and lots of guards in China. They are also in charge of making sure people don't park their bikes on the sidewalk," Alexandra from Romania said.

"In Shanghai, you can see police everywhere; if anything happens you can always address them. People generally are very polite. In my compound there is a baoan [security guard] who watches everything. So I can also go to him if something happens, but honestly nothing ever happens," Tina from Russia said.

"I didn't see any suspicious things to be afraid of. I have never heard of any news about terror or any bad things happening in China, so that is relaxing," said Irem Sarpsa from Turkey, who works in East China's Jiangsu Province but spent her weekend in Shanghai.

Xinjiang experience

Tina and Gunnar Hellstrom from Sweden both mentioned their trip to Northwest China's Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.

"Some people consider that place as not safe, but I wouldn't say so. I find it as safe as anywhere else. It's amazing and it's a beautiful place. I loved it," Tina told the Global Times.

Hellstrom said that "I was in Urumqi, Xinjiang, recently, with many police checks all over. The fire protection at hotels is great. I feel comfortable in China." 

Asked by the Global Times about what they expected before they came to China, several interviewees replied that "We didn't know what to expect, but it's a nice surprise."

Dash said that,"Before coming to China I was in Japan for two years. So I had an idea of China that was a bit biased. Especially in the West, the media are not giving proper coverage of China. So when I arrived four years ago in Shanghai, I thought it wasn't that safe. I was actually surprised."

This feeling was shared by almost all of our interviewees. "I came here with no expectations and I was pleasantly surprised," Alexandra confirmed.

"In Argentina, I live in Buenos Aires. I'm very close to Chinatown. I know that is not the same, and actually when I arrived here it was totally different. The people, the culture, the personality, the food and even the smell! Everything is different; I like that kind of thing," Gustavo Chaile from Argentina said, unable to hide his happiness.

"I thought it would be chaotic and lots of people everywhere. But I don't think it's the right word for it at all," Sunday from the US said.

Guns and cars

"As far as I know, there is no gun violence in China. Compared to America, it's a different story," Elias Skold from Sweden told the Global Times.

Coincidentally, traffic is still a headache for foreigners. "The drivers here don't stop for pedestrians," and "They drive too fast," were the top complaints.

Cashless payments, a new trend in China, are also regarded as a sort of monetary safety for foreigners.

"It's interesting. I always use either cash in India or credit cards in America. Then I come to China and all I need is my mobile phone. It's quite safe because I don't need to carry any cash with me. All I need is Zhifubao [Alipay] or Weixin [WeChat]. It's quite cool and amazing," Aamir said.

"Now I use my phone to pay in China. The situation first occurred when I took a bus without taking my transport card or cash. I didn't know how to pay," Dash recalled. 

Rapid transportation, especially China's high-speed railway network, is another highlight expats mentioned when discussing travel safety.

Easy and convenient access, affordable prices and simple payment methods now make the safe and fast high-speed railway experience welcome by more and more foreigners arriving in China. 

Shanghai police are patrolling a metrostation. Photo:VCG

Photos:Yang Hui/GT

Photos:Yang Hui/GT

Photos:Yang Hui/GT 


Photos:Yang Hui/GT


Photos:Yang Hui/GT


Photos:Yang Hui/GT