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Safety and Security in China

When moving abroad, your own safety and security, as well as that of your dependents, is an important matter to consider. Luckily, China is a comparatively safe place to live when it comes to violent crime. However, expats should be aware of potential natural hazards and China’s strict control of public order.

To best prepare you for life in China, we have summed up some basic safety advice. Look out for scams targeting tourists, as well as counterfeit money and goods. Also make sure you are truly up to driving on China’s winding mountain roads or busy city streets. Typhoons, flooding, landslides, and earthquakes may pose a further risk to your safety in China, depending on where in the country you are staying. Keep an eye on weather reports and follow the advice and directions of the local authorities! Similarly, keep up-to-date on local events if you are planning a trip to the Autonomous Regions of Tibet or Xinjiang: ethnical and political tensions are high, and violent outbreaks and attacks have been known to happen.

Prejudice in China

In theory, all people in China enjoy equal rights. In practice, however, workplace discrimination and racism do exist, if typically in non-violent forms. Japanese nationals and people of African descent in particular may face prejudice and mistrust due to various factors, including Japan’s bloody history with China. Next to ethnicity and race, physical features, astrological beliefs, and religious faith can also lead to discrimination in China. Discrimination based on gender, too, exists, even if Chinese business women are catching up fast and held the majority of senior management positions in 2013. Homosexuality, on the other hand, while no longer considered a crime or illness, is still not widely understood in a society where saving face and continuing the family line play an important role in everyday life. Only big, international cities such as Beijing boast an active LGBT scene. However, violent cases of gay bashing are thankfully rare throughout the country.

Crime and Punishment

When you think about the topic of safety and security in China, news reports about human rights violations may come to mind. China is also known for a strict take on law enforcement in order to keep up the “social peace and order”. Indeed, there have been a number of cases where “enemies of the state”, e.g. advocates of a greater freedom of speech, have been detained on dubious charges, and censorship is widespread, both online and in all print media. However, there’s more to Chinese law and its enforcement than the limitation of civil rights or the death penalty for non-violent crimes. In our article, we also explain the different branches of local law enforcement, from the People’s Armed Police Force to the local Public Security Bureaus, where foreign nationals need to register their stay.

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