The immediate answer to the question is a forceful YES! While there have been some overblown media instances of allegedly dangerous confrontations between foreigners and Chinese authorities, they should deter no one from journeying to the world’s most populous nation. Celebrated court cases, the so-called ‘trade war’ between the United States and China, warnings from the Canadian Department of External Affairs and the general negative contemporary climate may well have raised worries and concerns. However, they should in no way prevent you from going to China. Following a few commonsense rules that appear below should make China just as safe as virtually any other destination.
The following is a personal example of how perception trumps reality. The reality is travelling to China is safe; the perception is that it is not. It is easy, all too easy, to get sucked into that instance of “false news.” Last July, my wife and I were book to travel to Japan on a glorious twelve-day vacation. The only rub – and it was a big one for my wife – was that we had to fly via Shanghai, China. My wife very nearly nixed the whole vacation as she had visions of landing in a Chinese jail (something she vocalized many times.) I tried to preach logic and reality to her, but she only very reluctantly – and nervously – agreed to go on the trip. Her attitude – and acceptance of the prevailing negative climate – mirrors thousands of others who have gone even further by cancelling planned trips to China.
So why exactly is it indeed safe to travel to China? The first is that if you exercise even a modicum of common sense, China is flawlessly safe – and indeed, very exciting. Follow the rules, abide by the customs, and arguably most importantly, obey the laws, and your trip will not only be safe, but highly enjoyable. Your Chinese adventure will only turn unsafe if you do something silly and/or illegal. Toe the line and it’s perfectly safe. Fully 9.3 million people visited The Great Wall of China last year. All without incident.
REALITY VERSUS PERCEPTION
A second reason why it is completely safe to travel was alluded to above. The perceived negative climate is grossly exaggerated. “What people believe to be true is more important than the truth itself.” That is precisely what has occurred with this issue. Largely because of a media whirlwind, (some) people have come to believe that China should be avoided. Nothing could be further from the truth. Travelling to China is perfectly safe. Forget the hyperbole, forget the media frenzy, forget the (mis)perception. Go with the reality – it is perfectly safe to travel to China.
GOVERNMENT VESTED INTEREST
Another reason China is completely safe is that the Chinese government is committed to making China safe for tourists. The men and women within the Chinese government are acutely aware of the revenue available from the tourist trade. In 2016, for example, the most recent year for which statistics were available, travel and tourism generated almost four TRILLION dollars, up 15.2% from the previous year. That represented 2.1% of the huge Chinese GDP (Gross Domestic Product). More than 22 million jobs are dependent on the travel industry. The Chinese government is not about to jeopardize that.
A fourth way in which to guarantee that China is entirely safe is to always go with an accredited (TICO) travel agency who will organize that your tour is one hundred percent guided. Go with reputable a reputable company which is sponsored and/endorsed by local Chinese partners. There is strength, security, and safety in travelling in groups. Remember that your tour guide not only speaks the language but also knows the customs and the laws. He/she also knows exactly what to do if something does go wrong. it is only sensible to travel to China with a guided tour. Your will see far more, enjoy far more, and be completely safe. And for goodness sake, stay with the group!
A fifth strategy to ensure complete safety in China is to do the requisite research prior to departure. Know where you are going, what you are likely to encounter, and any potential areas/problems to be avoided. Knowing what you are likely to encounter will increase both your comfort level as well as your ability to exercise that vital tool, common sense. “Forewarned is forearmed.” Always go with guided tour sponsored by a reputable company. Finally, follow the rules, customs, and most importantly, the laws of the land, and if you don't know something, ask.
What country has the most UNESCO World Heritage sites? China! Fully 55 such sites are locates in China, with nine of them alone being in Beijing. China offers a treasure-trove of fabulous sites from The Forbidden City and Tiananmen Square of Beijing, to The Great Wall, to the Terra Cotta Warriors of X’ian, to The Bund in Shanghai. to many, many more. It arguably provides one of the most attractive ‘bang for bucks’ travel destinations available as you can take advantage of really reasonable tour packages to China. So, at the end of the day, use logic, reality, and common sense and understand that China is perfectly safe. And enjoy!