With a murder rate around one-fifth of the United States and general crime rate 3 times lower, on paper China seems safe.
But how safe is China when you’re there?
China is prone to natural disasters such as earthquakes, flood and typhoons, Some of the world’s deadliest disasters have occurred in China. Saying that, China is a big country and certain parts are certainly more susceptible than others.
In general, Chinese people are fairly passive and non-aggressive. With a large population living in close proximity, the potential for fights and arguments should be increased. However, this doesn’t seem to be the case. Road rage is almost non-existent when considering the number of near misses and people being cut up on the road.
The Chinese put a lot of importance on the concept of ‘face’. Knowing this, the Chinese police and media often show the faces and gives the names of criminals. This put shame on them and their families and would deter potential criminals. Chinese people are hard-working and honest. You would be far more likely to be chased down the street to be given your change than for any other reason.
Although there have been a few extremely violent high profile knife attacks around China of late, violent crime towards foreigners is extremely unlikely. It is safe to walk around in most cities any time of day in poor or wealthy neighbourhoods.
With clubbing and binge drinking on the rise with Chinas twenty-somethings. Like western countries, the influence of alcohol means there obviously are violent interactions, but few and far between.
We often wonder as foreigners living in China whether we are just not hearing about these crimes. but, we have since come to the conclusion that they are rare.
China is stepping up it’s CCTV systems countrywide with 170 million cameras countrywide. Facial recognition is in full swing and picking out criminals from crowds regularly. This is obviously a deterrent and is making China a safer place to be. On the topic of big data and surveillance, Chinese people that we speak to seem indifferent to the arrival of so many cameras on the streets.
Pollution is a problem still in China. Although China has goals to move production out of China and has been shutting down thousands of factories, smog still hangs over large Chinese cities. This can obviously affect health but Keeping an eye on the Air Quality Index and wearing a mask can help.
Food-related issues are a large part of safety in China and should be paid attention to. Chemicals used in food to make production cheaper or unregulated pesticides being used on crops are all issues to watch out for. Beijing has already prohibited 22 highly toxic pesticides from use on fruits and teas and plans to ban another 12.
Scams and pickpocketing
Being the victim of sticky fingers or taken in by a scam may be the most likely form of theft to occur in China. Not being affected by it personally, I have heard stories but nothing more than normal precaution needs to be taken. Be aware of your belongings in overcrowded areas and read up on the infamous ‘tea house’ scam.
The Chinese people themselves are more at risk of phone call and bank account scams.
People may have visited China and had something terrible happen to them but we feel this is rare. When thinking about how safe china is to live, we have to consider our personal experiences and those of people around us. The worst that has happened to us personally is to be charged a ‘foreigner price’ when buying fruit and vegetables.