Safety and Security in China . Teach English abroad with Pioneer and Beyond (4)

How safe is China?

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When most foreigners move to China, they worry about their safety. Generally, China is one of the safest places to live in the world. There are comparatively lower crime rates in China compared to other developing countries. Most noteworthy, China is the most populous country in the world. For this reason, one would expect high levels of insecurity in China. Cases of robbery and burglary are very few. However, this does not rule out the occurrence of crime in China. The government has enacted strict security measures to keep the population in check.


China’s strict security measures

First of all, China has a huge police force. There is a heavy police presence in the districts of China. Police work round the clock in surveillance or patrol. The Chinese are aware that police are present, even in plain clothes. As such, most do not engage in criminal activities. In any place you operate from, there will be a number of police officers or government security guards in the vicinity. Further, the government of China has delegated public order to the local authorities.

Also, the police have the mandate to check on foreigners regularly. Therefore, always have original and/or duplicate copies of your passport and resident permit.

Secondly, guns are prohibited in China. The government does not allow manufacture, purchase or assembly of weapons by individuals. Smuggling of weapons also attracts heavy penalties. Similarly, owning a gun for personal defence is also prohibited. For this reason, there are hardly any cases of gun shootings in China. Likewise, the police do not carry their guns often, unless necessary.

Thirdly, there are millions of surveillance cameras along streets and establishments. Most of these cameras have artificial intelligence. They can pick important details about persons. They can decode faces, age and height. People are aware of camera surveillance in these areas. Therefore, they get discouraged from engaging in criminal activities.

Possible Security Risks

These are the well-known security risks in China.


Scams particularly befall foreigners. Before you travel to China, read and watch about possible scams in China and how they happen.

Sometimes, young Chinese ladies will lure you into a tea bar for tea tasting. At the end of it, you get slapped with an exaggerated bill.

Rickshaw drivers will offer you a rickshaw ride and take you to a very remote place. They will insist on taking you back after you have paid a large sum of money.

Flower girl scams use young girls who approach couples. They will give the flower to the girl, then follow the couple asking for payment. Giving the flower back is never an option. Being a foreigner, you oblige and pay for the flower.

Finally, there is the art students’ scam. Young Chinese approach you with artistic drawings. They will them convince you to accompany them to their studio. Here, they will sell you cheap drawings at exaggerated prices.

The whole motive behind scams is to extort money from unsuspecting foreigners. Beware in crowds and tourist-packed places. Any English-speaking Chinese who approaches you and seems to befriend you could be a scammer. More often, they will insist on having a conversation with you. If, in any case, you get scammed, report the matter to the police.

It is unlikely that you will fall victim of the scams mentioned above, but it is always good to be aware.


Traffic snarl-ups are common, especially in large cities. When sitting in traffic, be precarious.  If you are in rural areas, roads tend to be narrow, winding and of poor quality. For this reason, be a cautious driver to avoid accidents. Moreover, the Chinese do not follow traffic rules diligently.

If you are driving, always have your resident permit and Chinese driving license.

For pedestrians, use walkways and designated pedestrian crossings.

Cyclers should use the designated cycle tracks.

Always follow and obey the traffic rules of the land.

Counterfeit money and goods

Beware of counterfeit money in circulation, especially 100RMB notes. To avoid getting caught in this mess, carry your cash in smaller denominations. When withdrawing your cash from ATMs, do it from well-known financial institutions.

Similarly, some Chinese manufactures counterfeit goods. They do this in an effort to imitate popular brands. This is particularly in electronics and fashion products. They avail these items at cheaper prices. Stay clear of pirated goods.

Most noteworthy, China continues to improve its trademark, copyright and patent laws.


Natural disasters

China has different climatic zones. As such, some regions are more prone to natural disasters than others. Typhoons, landslides, floods and earthquakes are common.

Typhoons are common in southern and eastern China. They cause great damage and loss of property, infrastructure and lives. Normally, floods sometimes occur as a result of typhoons. Similarly, floods caused by heavy precipitation, cause the banks of Yangtze River to break.

Landslides particularly happen in southwestern China, especially around mountainous regions. Earthquakes mostly happen in Yunnan and Sichuan provinces as well as the Tibetan plateau. If you live and work in an earthquake-prone zone, move as soon they issue an alert.

Always read about the place you work or live. Follow weather forecasts. This helps to avert yourself from the effects of natural hazards.


Autonomous Regions (Tibet and Xinjiang)

Autonomous regions face constant ethnic and political tensions. Entry to these regions is restricted and It requires you to have a pass to access it. Although there is a heavy police presence, riots happen. Violent outbreaks, terror attacks, protests and demonstrations happen often.


In conclusion, China is a safe place to live. However, stay alert to avoid being a victim of criminal activities. If by bad luck you get caught in the mess, report to the authorities. The local police handle crimes related to foreigners efficiently.


Resources and Further Reading

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