China and the USA are now at war with another…a trade war. The old adage “all is fair in love and war” applies here too. The Chinese government has warned its citizens about the unsafe conditions in the United States, casting the country as a third-world cesspool.
Tensions are high right now between the U.S. and China. Last Friday, the Trump Administration imposed several tariffs on Chinese resources like steel and aluminum. China responded by imposing tariffs on many popular U.S. products. But that’s not all. The Chinese Embassy in Washington, DC also warned Chinese citizens about travel to the United States.
Reuters, which translated the updated warning, describes it this way:
The embassy warned Chinese tourists to be aware of issues including expensive medical bills, the threats of public shootings and robberies, searches and seizures by customs agents, telecommunications fraud and natural disasters.
“Public security in the United States is not good. Cases of shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent,” the embassy said in the alert published on Thursday to its website.
“Travellers in the United States should be alert to their surroundings and suspicious individuals, and avoid going out alone at night.”
When asked whether the warning was politically-motivated, a spokesperson for the Chinese Foreign Ministry dodged the question:
This kind of reminder from the Chinese embassy in the relevant country, I think this is absolutely a matter that is in the scope of our duty.
Fair or Unfair?
I’ve been to over 130 countries around the world including Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. Talk about Afghanistan or Iraq and you might picture an entire nation torn by war. But that would be an inaccurate picture. Afghanistan has natural beauty and areas that are very safe. Iraqi Kurdistan is safer than many countries who have never been torn apart by war.
The Chinese warning is such a broad generalization it strikes me as nothing less than a punitive, politically-motivated move to discourage U.S. tourism.
Cases of robbery, theft, and shooting are “frequent” in the USA. But context matters. There are over 325 million people who live in the USA. Avoid going out alone at night? Depends on where you are. I would feel totally safe walking around my neighborhood at 2am. There are vast swaths of the country that do not even lock doors. Telecommunications fraud? Really “Great Firewall” China?
It’s not like this issue is only a Chinese problem. Whenever the U.S. issues a new travel warning, it seems inevitable that Award Expert clients line up to cancel trips. As if the whole of Turkey or Morocco is under siege…
I don’t give much weight to travel warnings, but it is clear they can be used as a political tool. Fair or not, that’s what China is doing here.