China is one of the biggest countries in the world. And with its vast land area comes endless beautiful regions and cities to explore. Every year, China attracts over 100 million visitors. But how safe is China? Let’s find out here.
China is a very safe country international standards according to international students. With the use of modern technology in policing and strict law enforcement it is one of the safest countries in the world.
In 2020, China’s criminal index dropped by 31.18% compared to 2016, one of the lowest crime rates in the globe.
Although some foreigners have reported being victims of petty crimes like pickpocketing, the rate is relatively low. Violent crimes such as homicide, burglary, and robbery are quite rare.
Robot police “Anbot” is China’s recent innovation in maintaining public safety. China is leading in technological solutions to protect citizens.
Traffic And Road Safety
Physical road conditions in metropolitan areas such as Beijing and Shanghai are excellent.
Like most developed countries, traffic congestions and delays are quite common anywhere in China.
One of the greatest road hazards are from local drivers who have very limited driving experience. It is important to be careful when crossing the road, or using e-bikes because of China’s different road and driving culture and fast pace.
Like most developed countries, traffic congestions is a challenge in China.
Taking trains, buses and taxis are generally safe methods for transportation in China. They are also very affordable compared to Western countries. However, you should still take precaution when hailing public transport.
Always take official, colored taxis, only accept fares that have meters, write down your destination’s address in Chinese characters and ask for a receipt at the end of your trip. The most common crime on public transport, especially taxis, is scams–unregulated drivers will overcharge you or take you on ridiculously long routes to increase the fare.
While incidents of violent events on public transport are rare, you should still take some basic common-sense precautions. Be alert when taking public transport late at night or at rush hour (pickpockets). If you are in a taxi, have the map pulled up on your phone so you can be aware if the driver deviates from the route.
China’s high-speed rail system with its modern trains are becoming the preferred mode of transportation over flying and is one of the safest in the world.
Gender Based Violence + Women’s Safety
In general, China is an extraordinarily safe country for women. Walking alone at night and traveling solo are far safer in China than anywhere else, even for foreign women. The high frequency of security cameras and police presence in many Chinese cities means women are safe when they travel or walk alone.
The most common gender-based crime in China is domestic violence and sexual harassment/assault. Social stigma against talking about assault contributes to this environment. However, legal protections are catching up to the reality. China’s first domestic violence law, passed in 2016, established domestic violence as its own category of civil offense. Rape is punished by a 3-10 years in prison.
Students should be aware of basic personal safety as well as the resources offered by their university to report domestic violence, sexual harassment, or assault. One of the biggest ways to combat gender based violence is by simply talking it in an open manner to destigmatize gender based violence and promote respect and safety for all people.
Environmental And Weather Safety
China, and Beijing has a reputation for air pollution, but in recent years the situation has improved to comparable levels to other international cities.
Coal-fired power stations and factories were closed and burning coal for heat in homes was banned. More than 70 cities turned their smoggy skies to bluer skies.
As for weather conditions, it is common to have typhoons and monsoons between April and October especially in the south and southeast areas of China. Low-lying regions in the Yangzi and Li rivers can flood during this time.
To stay safe in inclement weather, its important to prepare for the local conditions. A smog mask or air purifier are must-haves in dusty cities. Umbrellas and sturdy, slip-proof rain boots will help you in rainy area. When in doubt, see how the locals are dressing and imitate them!
There was air pollution in Beijing but now the situation has improved considerably and the air quality is much better.
Tap water in China is not safe to drink. However, in Chinese restaurants where you get water with your meal, water is boiled and safe to drink. You can also order bottled water anywhere that is very safe.
Many foreigners worry about the quality of food in China, but it’s actually a gastronomic country where people take pride in their food preparation. Food regulation at restaurants and cafes are strict so it is safe to eat in many places.
China is known for its sprawling street food and snack stalls. Most vendors usually use seasonal and fresh ingredients that are cooked right in front of you. However, some vendors (especially in less regulated areas) may have questionable food standards. Avoid eating street food until you have adjusted to the Chinese cuisines. If food appears moldy, rotted, or wilted, don’t eat it. The most common issue foreigners face when eating unfamiliar Chinese food is diarrhea!
There are quite strict requirements for food preparation and most restaurants offer good quality hygiene standards. China is well known as having a rich and fascinating food culture.
Beijing enacted a new law regulating the peddling of street food. Vendors are required to obtain licenses and operate within fixed locations and at designated times and thus providing a basis for enforcement efforts.
LGBTQ Safety in China
LGBTQ people are quite safe in China but lack legal protections. Instances of hate crimes are exceedingly rare. However, the LGBTQ community lacks many civil protections and benefits such as the right to marry same-sex partners and anti-discrimination protections. Transitioning and legal gender change is possible in China, but it is very difficult. China’s first clinic for transgender children and adolescents was established in Shanghai in 2021.
The general attitude of the government and society at large is “no approval; no disapproval; no promotion.” LGBTQ people are more likely to encounter confusion about their gender/sexuality, general ignorance of LGBTQ topics and issues, and disregard of same-sex relationships rather than outright harassment or violence. Pressure to marry and have children is commonly felt by Chinese LGBTQ people; foreigners are unlikely to face the same social pressures.
Travel Advisories On COVID-19
Since March 28, 2020, China’s borders have been closed to almost all foreigners.
Read our Covid Update here to learn when students can go back to China.
In general, all countries have good and bad sides, so it’s best to take precaution regardless of where you are. Travel with insurance, familiarize yourself with local laws, culture and customs and keep your personal belongings close.
China is a beautiful and safe country worth visiting. Tourists, expats and international students have very positive experiences in China. In the mean time, read more about everything China and we will see you this year (hopefully) when travel bans are lifted!