China remains a safe place to visit for foreigners, says international security report

A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard outside the Forbidden City near Tiananmen Square during the Communist Party's 19th Congress in Beijing on Oct 23.
A Chinese paramilitary policeman stands guard outside the Forbidden City near Tiananmen Square during the Communist Party's 19th Congress in Beijing on Oct 23.PHOTO: AFP

BEIJING (CHINA DAILY/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - China is seen as one of the safest places in the world for foreign visitors, according to an international security report and anecdotal evidence from tourists, expatriates and overseas students.

In the new Travel Risk Map 2018, the country is listed as having a low travel risk, which means "violent crime rates are low, and racial, sectarian or political violence or civil unrest is uncommon".

The report, now in its eighth year, is compiled and released annually in a joint venture by International SOS, the medical and travel security services company, and global risk and strategic consulting firm Control Risks.

Since the safety situation in China has remained stable, its risk rating has not changed for many years, according to Mr Tony Ma, client liaison director in China for the joint venture.

"We haven't noticed any dramatic, massive threats at present in China; terrorism or mass shootings or killings are generally absent," he said. "Kidnappings for ransom and extreme violent scenarios are also very rare."

China has become the fourth most popular destination for tourists worldwide, with more than 60 million trips made by people from other countries last year, according to the United Nations World Tourism Organisation.

Ms Maria Plaza Pelayo, 24, of Madrid, who arrived in Beijing a few weeks ago, said she was impressed by China's order and safety, which has made her feel much safer than in the United States or Turkey, where she also has visited.

She said she did not feel like she was in any danger in Beijing, as she saw efforts from professionals, including volunteers on streets, police officers on patrol and security staff in the subways, to keep order.

Mr Liu Hongbin, a professor of public order studies at People's Public Security University of China, said continuous joint efforts on fighting crime, the deployment of technological tools to track crimes and the inclusiveness of the Chinese culture, are all reasons for China's high safety level.

"The Chinese culture has been an integration of cultures of different ethnic groups in the long history of the country. People raised in such a diverse cultural environment do not hold discrimination or hostility towards people from other cultures, making people from other countries feel secure and comfortable," he said.

Mr Armando Raphael Lydon Busquets, 20, of California, said he constantly heard gunshots, police sirens and similar noises back home in the United States.

"You'd see a lot of shady people, and it would always be in the local news about something bad happening with someone," said Mr Lydon Busquets, a student at the University of International Business and Economics in Beijing.

Data from the Ministry of Public Security show that China has seen a stable number of gun-related crimes in recent years and the number of gun-related violent crimes, such as murder, robbery and kidnapping, has dropped sharply.

Between August 2016 and July 2017, police cracked about 3,800 illegal weapons cases and firearms purchases and detained 25,000 suspects, the ministry said.

The ministry launched a campaign targeting gun-related crime in July, which will run through the end of the year (2017).

Apart from gun-related crime, the number of other violent cases in 2016, such as homicide, arson and robbery, also declined 43 per cent since 2012, the ministry said.