This is an annual report produced in
conjunction with the Regional Security Office at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing.
OSAC encourages travelers to use this report to gain baseline knowledge of security
conditions in a dozen provinces across the northern and central portion of
China. For more in-depth information, review OSAC’s China country
page for original OSAC reporting,
consular messages, and contact information, some of which may be available only
to private-sector representatives with an OSAC password.
that the Regional Security Office submitted this report prior to the outbreak
of COVID-19, and it represents a picture of the baseline security environment
as of the beginning of 2020. The current U.S. Department of State Travel
Advisory at the date of this report’s publication advises avoiding
travel to China the novel coronavirus. However, the Travel
Advisory in effect prior to the outbreak assessed China at Level 2,
indicating travelers should Exercise increased caution in China due to
arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual
U.S.-Chinese citizens. Review OSAC’s report, Understanding the
Consular Travel Advisory System.
Chinese authorities have asserted broad
authority to prohibit U.S. citizens from leaving China by using exit bans,
sometimes keeping U.S. citizens in China for years. China uses exit bans
to compel U.S. citizens to
participate in Chinese government investigations;
to lure individuals back to China
from abroad; and
to aid Chinese authorities in
resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware
of the exit ban when they attempt to depart China. Authorities have harassed
and threatened U.S. citizens subject to exit bans. U.S. citizens may be
detained without access to U.S. consular services or information about their
alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subject to interrogations and extended
detention for reasons purportedly related to state security.
Extra security measures, such as security
checks and increased levels of police presence, are common in the Xinjiang
Uighur and Tibet Autonomous Regions.
China does not recognize dual nationality. U.S.-Chinese
citizens and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be subject to additional
scrutiny and harassment.
Overall Crime and
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Beijing as being a LOW-threat
location for crime directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
China’s capital has a population of more than 21.5 million people
and is generally safe when compared to other global cities. The presence of
police and security personnel throughout the city serves to deter most serious
crime, while petty crime occurs with regularity.
lesser-developed areas in major cities have a higher rate of crime.
Statistically, more crimes of opportunity transpire during overnight hours. For
example, individuals who frequent bars, nightclubs, and similar establishments
are more likely to be involved in physical altercations after midnight.
capability, and responsiveness of Chinese authorities varies by region and
city. The income disparity in Chinese society has been a source of social
friction and is a root cause for much of the economic crime experienced in
Beijing and other large Chinese cities. This includes pickpocketing, credit
card fraud, and various financial scams, many of which target foreign victims
because of their perceived wealth. Pickpocketing on public transportation
during peak hours, in shopping areas, and at tourist sites is common. In such
locations, travelers may have little or no personal space, making them more
vulnerable to pickpocketing and petty theft. Thieves target cash, credit cards,
jewelry, cell phones, cameras, and other electronic devices, among other
personal belongings. At tourist sites, thieves are generally more interested in
cash, and will immediately abandon credit cards; in shopping areas, they may
seek cash and credit cards. Make copies of your passport photo page and visa,
as well as credit card numbers (to include telephone contact information in the
event the card is stolen), and store in your hotel or residence – and keep a
copy of the photo saved on your phone – in the event the actual items are
stolen. Review OSAC’s report, All That You Should Leave Behind.
often work in teams and use distraction techniques; some may carry knives, even
if they do not routinely brandish them.
crime is relatively uncommon. Violent crime affecting the expatriate community
most often occurs in bars, nightclubs, and other nightlife establishments. Bar
fights often involve excessive drinking, insults regarding
ethnicity/nationality, and disputes over women, and usually result in large
numbers of local patrons physically overwhelming foreigners. While the legal
age for consuming alcohol is 18, most establishments do not require
identification. Some bars are overcrowded, and authorities do not routinely
enforce safety standards. Prostitutes and drugs are present in some clubs and
may encounter scenes of domestic violence or assault on the street. These
incidents usually involve shoving, punching, and kicking. Even when a crowd
forms, no one generally intervenes to stop the assault for fear of blame or
liability. If necessary, locate the nearest police officer or station for
violence and assaults are less common but also occur, with several expatriates
reportedly receiving threats or assaulted because of contract or wage disputes
with business partners and employers. Review OSAC’s report, Detained in China.
assaults have occurred, although reported incidents remain relatively rare.
Most instances follow the excessive consumption of alcoholic beverages in bars,
nightclubs, and massage parlors. Other factors potentially contributing to
sexual assault include the use of unlicensed taxis, undertaking high-risk
activities, or failing to follow best security practices. Review OSAC’s report,
Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad.
use various scams to defraud foreign victims. While there have been instances
of robbery by force, many cases appear to have involved a variation of the same
scam. Typically, scammers invite a victim to a specific location for a massage,
tea, drinks, or music, or to view an art exhibition or practice English skills.
While in the establishment, criminals confront the victim and force them to
turn over a credit card under the threat of violence. The criminals then charge
the credit cards with thousands of dollars in purchases, for which the victim must
sign the receipt. In most cases, criminals release the victims unharmed, though
distraught or embarrassed, with further threats of violence should they notify
the police. Although this trend has occurred for several years, it appears to
be continuing unabated. Local police are willing to engage, but often seem
unwilling to investigate the crimes if the complainant is no longer present in
China. In instances where the victim reported the crime to the police
immediately, there has been limited success in recovering lost money or
valuables, but evidence of prosecutions is scarce. Review OSAC’s reports, Common China Scams and Common China Scams pt. II: Theft/Extortion.
send text messages and emails referring to fraudulent bills and/or traffic
tickets to trick people into paying money.
use information gained from recent data security breaches to trick their
victims into believing that they are legitimate callers. For example, a caller
may reference a victim’s name, address, ID number, family member names, and/or
school to trick the victim into sending them money.
pose as a police officers, and place telephone calls requesting a funds
transfer to resolve an identity theft or money laundering investigation. The
situation can be “resolved” if the victim agrees to the transfer.
reported scam occurs when bad weather cancels flights. An individual at the
airport approaches stranded passengers and asks if they need a hotel room. The
individual appears to work for the airport, wears an ID badge, and carries a
radio. They call a vehicle, which takes the passengers to a hotel, and have
them pay the driver. Upon check-out, they discover that they paid the driver at
least double the hotel rate, and that the scammers had no affiliation with the
airport or hotel.
currency is a significant concern in China, as evidenced by the scrutiny
storeowners exercise when receiving payment in cash, and the use of a
money-counting machine prior to acceptance to ensure validity. Unsuspecting
visitors receive fraudulent notes at restaurants, stores, ATMs, and in taxi
cabs. Large numbers of 100 RMB and 50 RMB counterfeit notes are regularly in
circulation, though smaller denominations (such 10 RMB and 20 RMB notes) may
also be counterfeit. Understand the signatures of authentic currency and do not
change money with individuals on the street. Moneychangers offering unrealistic
exchange rates often use counterfeit currency. Counterfeiting is becoming less
common, as most people in China now use WeChat, AliPay, or other forms of
electronic payment instead of cash. Use ATMs only at trusted financial
institutions. Review OSAC’s reports, The Overseas Traveler’s Guide to ATM
Skimmers & Fraud and Taking Credit.
common taxi scam occurs when passengers pay with a 100 RMB note. The driver
switches the note with a counterfeit bill, “returns” the bill, and rejects it
as counterfeit – only to then demand another genuine note. Carrying small bills
or using exact change, particularly in taxis, can help protect you.
There is no expectation of privacy in China.
The Chinese government has the capability to monitor cellphones, tablets, and
computers connected to the internet. The Chinese government has
publicly declared that it regularly monitors private email and Internet
browsing through cooperation with the limited number of internet service
providers (ISPs) and wireless providers operating in China. Wireless access to
the Internet in major metropolitan areas is becoming more common, so Chinese
authorities can access official and personal computers more easily. U.S. government
employees have reported seeing unknown computers and devices accessing their
home networks; these intrusions likely required advanced computer knowledge and
network password hacking.
The government proactively monitors all media
outlets, and will temporarily block international media outlets during
broadcasts of news stories considered unfavorable to the Chinese government.
OSAC members frequently report incidents involving restricted bandwidth or high
latency, making email and internet browsing frustratingly slow.
threat actors target foreign governments and members of the private sector.
Foreign individuals and organizations should remain vigilant against potential
intrusions to their proprietary networks and information technology systems. China is known for the use of sophisticated
cyber capabilities including spear phishing, targeting of mobile devices,
social engineering, and network manipulation. Viruses, malware, and other forms
of malicious software are common.
The government controls the internet within
China and restricts or blocks completely access to some common websites based
outside of China. WeChat and other alternative Chinese applications are nearly
ubiquitous; however, they have built-in features that allow the Chinese
government to monitor and censor messages, read the device’s address book,
access photos, track the user’s current location, and even activate the
microphone or camera. China widely monitors social
media accounts. Local authorities may use information they deem controversial
against both the poster of the material and the host of the forum. Bloggers
are subject to particular scrutiny, and may have content blocked depending on
the profile, following, and content.
Information security in China is an
organization-wide challenge that merges both physical and cyber security. An
holistic approach to defend against a perceived increase in cybersecurity
threats includes the following basic countermeasures:
Use “burner” devices containing
limited information and erase or dispose of them after a trip is complete;
Minimize the number of mobile
devices you carry, and keep devices with you at all times to maintain their
Do not accept electronic gifts,
including USB devices, even from people you trust;
Enable two-factor authentication
OSAC’s reports, Trends in Chinese Cyber Espionage Campaigns and Virtual Private Networks In China: Are They
Review OSAC’s reports, Cybersecurity Basics, Best Practices for Maximizing Security on
Public Wi-Fi, Traveling with Mobile Devices: Trends &
Best Practices, and All That You Should Leave Behind.
Road Conditions and Safety
regulations, and conditions vary greatly throughout China. As such, traffic
safety is poor and driving can be dangerous. All drivers in China must possess
a Chinese driver’s license. International or U.S. licenses are not valid in
physical road conditions in larger cities are good. In contrast, road
conditions in rural areas are usually poor. Beijing adds more than 1,000 newly
registered vehicles to the roads every day, causing already congested roads to
come to a standstill during rush hour. Additionally, a great number of
pedestrians and bikers weave through traffic, creating a hazardous mix of
laws are routinely ignored. Most drivers are inexperienced, since private
ownership of vehicles was not allowed until the last decade. According to
China’s official English-language newspaper, the China Daily, nearly one-half
of the accidents in Beijing involve drivers who have less than four years of
driving experience. Traffic patterns and driving habits make crossing the
street in Beijing dangerous. Pedestrians do not have the right of way; use
extreme caution when walking in traffic, even in marked crosswalks.
greatest road hazard remains the inexperienced Chinese driver. Many are either
overly cautious or overly aggressive. According to one local media report,
traffic-related deaths were the leading cause of death for individuals under
the age of 45. Drivers disregard traffic laws, and policing proceeds remotely
by video camera (mainly with speed traps). Yielding to oncoming traffic or
pedestrians is uncommon, as is the use of turn signals. Driving while under the
influence of alcohol is also common.
Busy roads often lack shoulders, forcing bicycles
and scooters into driving lanes. Where there are shoulders, cars generally use
them as another travel lane, especially on crowded highways. It is common to
see drivers back up on the highway to get to an exit they missed, stop on the
side of the highway to drop off passengers (before slowing merging back into
high-speed traffic), or veer horizontally across several lanes of traffic to
get to an off-ramp.
Embassy responds to dozens of traffic accidents involving U.S. diplomats
annually; most are minor and resolve on the scene. In many cases, bicyclists
strike a static or moving vehicle. In traffic accidents, authorities rule the
foreigner at fault, regardless of the actual cause of the accident. Drivers
involved in accidents should not argue with the other party involved in a
traffic accident, regardless of fault.
Review OSAC’s reports, Road Safety Abroad,
Driving Overseas: Best
Practices, and Evasive Driving
Techniques; and read the State Department’s webpage on driving
and road safety abroad.
Public Transportation Conditions
one of the world’s most populous cities, all forms of public transportation in
Beijing are crowded, but can become dangerously so during peak times such as
the morning and evening commutes. The subway system is extensive.
inter-city train trips can be quite long due to the considerable distances
between most major cities, the high-speed train system is generally safe and efficient.
Trains and train stations are crowded during holiday travel periods. In 2018,
Chinese travelers made around 3 billion trips during the 40-day Spring Festival
official taxis (two-tone sedans in Beijing) that employ meters. If a driver
refuses to use a meter, exit the vehicle and use another taxi. Beijing taxis
are affordable, but can be difficult to hail, as supply falls far short of
demand, especially during peak times. Taxis sometimes refuse to stop for
foreigners, particularly those of African descent. Stories abound of foreigners
stranded for long periods because they could not get a taxi.
drivers do not understand English and do not recognize the English names of
popular hotels, shopping centers, or tourist sites (which often have no
relationship to the Chinese names). Taxi drivers often refuse to take fares
that require them to leave the center of the city, making it very difficult for
travelers who live in or visit the suburbs. Taxis almost never have working
seatbelts for passenger use. Some hotels can provide guests with taxi cards
written in English and Mandarin that include the hotel name, address, and
common points of interest. Didi (the most popular ride-share service in China)
is a frequent alternative to taxis.
a limited number of cases, foreigners have reported sexual assaults, luggage
theft, or exorbitant overcharges while
using unlicensed taxis. Luggage theft typically involves a taxi transporting
individuals to or from the airport and the driver intentionally leaving the
scene before the bags are unloaded.
OSAC’s report, Security In Transit:
Airplanes, Public Transport, and Overnights.
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government
of China’s Civil Aviation Authority as compliant with International Civil
Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of China’s
air carrier operations. Air travel out of Beijing, to
domestic and international locations alike, remains quite expensive as the
government regulates prices and competition. Flight delays are a common
occurrence, including those that result from sudden military closures, and such
delays are often not announced or explained to passengers. This can make travel
planning particularly difficult and often too unpredictable for weekend trips. Beijing
International Airport (PEK) experienced frequent delays throughout 2018, making
transportation by rail a preferred and more dependable option.
Daxing International Airport (PKX), the largest in the world, is located on the
border of Beijing and Langfang, Hebei Province. It opened to the public in September
2019, making it Beijing’s second international airport. Located approximately
40 miles south of PEK, is will serve Beijing, Tianjin, and Hebei. It serves as
a hub for SkyTeam alliance airlines and some Oneworld members, while Star
Alliance members will stay at PEK. The Daxing Airport Express of the Beijing
Subway connects the airport to urban Beijing.
U.S. Department of State has assessed Beijing as being a LOW-threat
location for terrorism directed at or affecting official U.S. government interests.
Shenyang experienced no incidents related to terrorism in 2019. There is no
significant transnational terrorist presence known in China. Human rights
organizations maintain that China uses counterterrorism as a pretext to
suppress Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group that comprises a large
percentage of the population in Xinjiang, northeastern China
Religious, and Ethnic Violence
The U.S. Department of State has assessed Beijing
as being a LOW-threat location for political violence. The government
remains focused on maintaining social stability and preventing civil unrest
caused by economic and social complaints. The largest, most violent incidents
have taken place in ethnic minority areas (e.g., Tibet and Xinjiang), where
grievances over human rights abuses and discriminatory policies have resulted
in spontaneous outbursts of violence targeting the government and Han Chinese
The Chinese government controls
all information available to Chinese citizens by censoring topics in books,
social media, news outlets, radio broadcasts, billboards, and magazines. Most
Chinese citizens are unaware of controversial Chinese issues well known outside
outside of official U.S. facilities occur occasionally, but the majority tend
to be small and peaceful. In 2018, an apparently emotionally disturbed person
injured himself by setting off an improvised explosive device along the U.S.
Embassy compound’s perimeter. The attacker survived, and no other injuries were
reported. Occasionally, Embassy employees report harassment or assault by
Chinese nationals due to their official occupations. In most cases, the
suspects appeared to be emotionally disturbed persons.
government remains focused on maintaining social stability and preventing civil
unrest over economic and social grievances. In recent years, the largest and
most violent incidents have taken place in ethnic minority areas (Tibet,
Xinjiang) where grievances over human rights abuses and discriminatory policies
have resulted in spontaneous outbursts of violence targeting the government and
Han Chinese interests.
disasters are common in China. Earthquakes kill dozens annually. Severe
weather, such as large snowstorms, has brought parts of the country to a
virtual standstill. Smaller-scale storms can often lead to multiple traffic
accidents. Snow removal is typically slow and accomplished by employing
thousands of laborers armed with shovels and brooms, with defrosting agents
also used in larger urban areas.
Critical Infrastructure Concerns
Accidents and fatalities continue
to plague China’s heavy industries. Worker safety and quality assurance
procedures have improved slightly, but typically do not meet Western standards.
Commercial transportation accidents involving motorized vehicles are common.
Trucks are often overloaded and drivers are poorly trained. Bus accidents are
also common in China. Poor driver training, overloaded buses, and the lack of
safety checks are major contributors to accidents.
Economic Espionage/Intellectual Property Theft
is no expectation of privacy in public or private locations. The Consulate
regularly receives reports of human and technical monitoring of U.S.
businesspersons and other visiting U.S. citizens. The areas around U.S. and
other foreign diplomatic facilities and residences are under overt physical and
video surveillance; China stations security personnel U.S. facilities and
around U.S. residences; and CCTV cameras are visible throughout Shanghai. Overt
microphones and video cameras are common in Chinese taxis.
and conversations in hotel rooms (including meeting rooms), offices, cars, and
taxis are subject to onsite or remote monitoring. Authorities may access hotel
rooms, residences, and offices at any time without the occupants’ consent or knowledge.
Authorities may search personal possessions, including computers, in hotel
rooms without the knowledge or consent of the owner. Elevators and public areas
of housing compounds are under continuous surveillance.
Consulate employees do not discuss sensitive
information in their homes, vehicles, or offices. Private-sector travelers
should take similar precautions to safeguard sensitive, personal, and/or
proprietary information. Be particularly mindful that it is Chinese policy to
take trade secrets, negotiating positions, and other business-sensitive
information to share with China-based competitors, counterparts, and/or Chinese
regulatory and legal entities. Several U.S. firms have
complained about theft of intellectual property, and are pursuing legal action
in Chinese courts. A lack of transparency regarding business practices is as a
danger for foreigners conducting business in China. Do not bring any
electronics (personal or work) with sensitive information you do not want
products such as pharmaceuticals, DVDs and designer handbags, are readily
available, but it is illegal to import them into the U.S. U.S. Customs
officials have the authority to seize suspect goods and impose fines on
travelers caught attempting to enter the U.S. with counterfeit items.
Nationalism is rising
quickly. In altercations between foreigners and Chinese, authorities usually
blame the foreigner and find them at fault.
Although many women
experience workplace sexual harassment, very few report it. One survey shows
nearly 40% of women in China said they had experienced sexual harassment in the
workplace. The Law on the Protection of Women’s Rights and Interests empowers
victims to file a sexual harassment complaint with their employer, authorities,
or both. Employers who fail to take effective measures to prevent sexual
harassment could receive fines. Many women remain unwilling to report incidents
of sexual harassment, believing the justice system is ineffectual. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for female
China does not legally
recognize same-sex marriages. Local authorities will not provide marriage
certificates to same-sex couples. There are no civil rights laws that prohibit
discrimination or harassment based on sexual orientation or gender identity, though
same-sex sexual acts are no longer illegal. Prejudices and discrimination still
exist in many parts of the country. There are growing LGBTI+ communities in
some of China’s largest cities and violence against LGBTI+ individuals in China
is relatively rare.
report incidents of violence, including domestic violence. LGBTI+ individuals
encounter difficulties in seeking legal redress, since regulations on domestic
violence, including the Family Violence Law, do not include recognition of same-sex
relations. Redress is limited further by societal discrimination and
traditional norms, resulting in most LGBTI+ persons refraining to publicly
discuss their sexual orientation or gender identity. Review
the State Department’s webpage on security for LGBTI+
U.S. citizens with
mobility disabilities may face challenges while traveling in China. Sidewalks
often do not have curb cuts and many streets can be crossed only via pedestrian
bridges or underpasses accessible by staircase. Assistive technologies for blind
people and those with other vision disabilities are unreliable, and access to
elevators in public buildings can be restricted. In major cities, public
restrooms in places visited by tourists usually have a least one accessible
toilet. Review the State Department’s webpage on security for travelers
2018, the central government implemented revisions to the Regulations on
Religious Affairs. The revisions require religious groups to register with the
government, increase penalties for “providing facilities” for unauthorized
religious activities, and restrict contact with overseas religious
institutions. These measures also included a new requirement for religious
groups to seek approval to travel abroad and a prohibition on “accepting
domination by external forces.” Citing these revised religious regulations,
local authorities detained hundreds of members of the Early Rain Church –
Chengdu’s largest house church – in 2018. Chinese authorities have detained,
fined, and revoked the Chinese visas of U.S. citizens who security personnel
alleged to have engaged in unauthorized religious activities while in China.
China continues its
campaign of mass detention of members of Muslim minority groups in the Xinjiang
Uighur Autonomous Region (Xinjiang). Authorities have arbitrarily detained more
than one million Uighurs, ethnic Kazakhs, Kyrgyz, and other Muslims in
extrajudicial internment camps designed to erase religious and ethnic
identities. Chinese government officials justified the camps under the pretense
of combating terrorism, separatism, and extremism. International media, human rights
organizations, and former detainees reported security officials in the camps
abused, tortured, and killed detainees. Government documents, as published by
international media, corroborated the coercive nature of the campaign and its
impact on members of Muslim minority groups in Xinjiang and abroad. Review
OSAC’s report, Freedom to Practice,
and the State Department’s webpage on security for faith-based
interrogated or detained U.S. citizens and those from other countries visiting
or resident in China for reasons purportedly related to state security. In such
circumstances, individuals could face arrest, detention, or an exit ban
prohibiting departure from China for a prolonged period. Dual U.S.-Chinese
nationals and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be at a higher risk of
facing such special scrutiny. The Chinese government uses exit bas coercively
to compel U.S. citizens to participate in Chinese government investigations; to
lure individuals back to China from abroad; to aid Chinese authorities in
resolving civil disputes in favor of Chinese parties.
In the past few years,
U.S. citizens with Tibetan ethnic or family ties reported having to undergo a
discriminatory Chinese visa application process, different from what is
typically required of most travelers to China, at Chinese embassies and
consulates in the U.S. Chinese authorities regularly denied their visa
applications. On several occasions, Chinese authorities barred the entry into
China of several U.S. citizens with Tibetan ethnic or family ties, despite
their having valid Chinese visas in their U.S. passports.
with ethnic or familial ties to the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region may
experience special restrictions, discrimination, and even arbitrary detention.
law enforcement authorities have little tolerance for illegal drugs. Penalties
for possessing, using, or trafficking illegal drugs in China are severe, and
convicted offenders can expect long jail sentences, heavy fines, or the death
penalty. China convicts and executes more people for drug offences than
anywhere else in the world, according to NGOs. Illicit drugs remain available
to Chinese and expatriates alike. Authorities occasionally detain foreigners on
drug charges. Police regularly conduct unannounced drug tests on people suspected of
drug use and have been known to enter a bar or nightclub and subject all
patrons to immediate drug testing. Police may force you to provide a urine,
blood, or hair follicle sample on short notice. A positive finding, even if the
drug was legal elsewhere or consumed prior to arriving in China, can lead to
immediate detention, fines, deportation, and/or a ban from re-entering China.
crimes do not appear to be a significant issue affecting the U.S. private
major transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle region of
Southeast Asia. There is growing domestic consumption of synthetic drugs and
heroin from Southeast and Southwest Asia. China is a source country for
methamphetamine and heroin chemical precursors, despite new regulations on its
large chemical industry.
occur mostly over business disputes; one might better categorize them as
“unlawful detentions,” often in the office or hotel room of the victim. The
kidnappers may allow the victim to use their mobile phone (to arrange the
resolution of the dispute); immediately call the police for assistance. Some
local businesspersons who feel wronged by a foreign business partner may hire
“debt collectors” to harass and intimidate the foreigner in hopes of collecting
the debt. Foreign managers or company owners have been physically “held
hostage” as leverage during dispute negotiations. The U.S. Department of State
has no legal or law enforcement authority, and can neither involve itself in
private disputes nor give legal advice.
some cases, labor disputes have resulted not only in protracted stoppages, but
also in temporary detention of expatriate managers by workers demanding
continued employment or enhanced severance packages.
have also been reports of taxi drivers transporting passengers to remote
locations and forcing them to pay a fee under threat of injury. Such reports
are relatively rare, and are often secondhand, circular accounts.
OSAC’s report, Kidnapping: The Basics.
Organizations (NGOs): In
2017, China implemented a law regulating the operations of foreign NGOs in
China. This law requires foreign NGOs to obtain sponsorship from a Chinese
government body as part of the registration process administered by the
Ministry of Public Security (MPS) and may limit the scope of foreign NGO
activities and sources of funding. The law also states that foreign NGOs must
not undermine or damage China’s national interests. The MPS has published
foreign NGO registration guidelines on its website, although some requirements and procedures remain
unclear. Employees of foreign NGOs in China should be aware that the
Chinese government’s application, interpretation, and implementation of these
guidelines could vary widely by location and case. Any entity that the
government might characterize as a foreign NGO, particularly those working in
sensitive areas or fields, should consult with a local lawyer regarding the
law's requirements and procedures for registration.
Foreigners working for
NGOs in China have recently faced additional scrutiny. Ensure proper visa
status to conduct activities in China. Authorities have interrogated and threatened
with arrest foreign and Chinese NGO representatives for conducting activities
while the NGO was not properly registered.
The emergency line in China is 110. Those
who do not speak Mandarin can ask to speak to an English-speaking officer, but very few English speakers staff this
hotline. Visitors to China must report any criminal victimization to the
police while in China; Chinese authorities will ignore any attempt to do so
while outside of China.
in China is different from U.S. policing; preserving social harmony is a large
component of the Chinese policing doctrine. Depending on the crime, police may ask
to negotiate for monetary damages with the alleged victim. If everyone agrees
with a monetary arrangement, no further legal issue exists. The Chinese police
training system has not yet evolved into one sympathetic to victims. Regardless
of the crime, the victim must visit the nearest police station to report it. The
victim must have the evidence to support his or her claims and could likely
have the assailant present in the same room while they narrate the incident to
the police. The role of the police at that time is to assist in negotiating a
financial solution to the problem. The victim should not expect expressions of
sympathy or support.
response to foreign victims of crime depends upon the type of infraction, location
where it transpired, and the social status of the victim (e.g. private citizen,
diplomat, VIP). Urban forces have better training and equipment, especially in first-tier
cities, where authorities spend millions of dollars on security-related
infrastructure. Local police are somewhat effective at deterring crime. Most
responses to alarms and emergency calls are sufficiently prompt if the police know
that the victim is a Westerner or a person of importance. In many cases, local
police authorities will serve as a mediator between the victim and criminal to
agree upon financial compensation, sometimes in lieu of jail time.
training and forensic equipment are improving but remain substandard compared to
Western countries. Authorities never provide reports of investigations to Embassy
or Consulate Regional Security Office, despite repeated formal requests.
officers have the right to assess fines at the scene of an incident. Westerners
may perceive this as soliciting a bribe, but it is not.
have the authority to detain and deport foreigners for a wide variety of
reasons. Police may detain foreigners who do not have their passport with them.
Police have reported that they are increasingly arresting
foreigners for being out of status related to their Chinese visas. The police
have conducted arrest sweeps at English language schools, where foreigners were
working, but considered out of status with their visas.
police arrest a U.S. citizen, the U.S.-China Consular Convention requires Chinese
authorities to notify the nearest U.S. Embassy/Consulate of the arrest within
four days. If a U.S. traveler with dual citizenship entered China using a non-U.S.
passport, authorities are not required to notify the U.S. Embassy/Consulate.
Typically, the police will not allow anyone other than a consular officer to
visit the traveler during the initial detention period. Authorities rarely
grant bail, and detainees can be subject to detention for many months before
being granted a trial. Arguments concerning comparisons with the U.S. judicial
system are largely ineffective. The U.S Government and its laws do not have
jurisdiction in China.
If your passport is stolen, you must not only
apply for a new passport at the nearest U.S. Embassy or Consulate, but you must
also apply for a new visa. To receive a new visa, you must file a police report
at the police station nearest to where the theft occurred. You must also file a
report at the local Entry/Exit Bureau.
police officers in some Chinese cities have begun carrying firearms, most
officers on the street remain unarmed. Armed specialized units (SWAT) sometimes
augment patrol officers. SWAT officers occasionally deploy during special
events, at air and railway stations, and in response to protests or
demonstrations. Police in Shanghai are increasingly using body cameras to
record their interactions with the public.
law enforcement relies heavily on the large volume of cameras to police public
areas, and makes regular use of their facial recognition technology. In
addition, businesses must install camera systems with a 45-day capacity for
digital video recording (DVR), which serves as a crime deterrent (despite privacy
concerns). This technology also monitors any kind of protest activity, which
will normally prompt a robust police response.
Download the State Department’s Crime Victims
medical emergency line in China is 120. English-speaking dispatchers are limited.
The standards of medical care in China are not equivalent to those
in the U.S. Western-style medical facilities with some international staff are
available in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, and a few other large cities. The
price is comparable or higher than in the U.S. Hospitals with VIP sections (gao gan bing fang) or
Special Needs wards (te xu) may be more likely to have reasonably up-to-date medical
technology and skilled physicians who typically speak English. Rural areas have
rudimentary facilities and inadequate staffing. Medical personnel in
rural areas have often received poor training and have limited access to
medical equipment or medications. Rural clinics are
often reluctant to accept responsibility for treating foreigners, even in
Municipal and private ambulance services in China remain
substandard. Response time is typically very slow, and transport to the nearest
hospital can take a considerable amount of time due to traffic congestion.
Ambulances do not typically carry sophisticated medical equipment, and
ambulance personnel generally have limited Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) training
and/or English-language skills. As a result, injured or seriously ill U.S.
patients may need to take taxis or other vehicles to the nearest major
contact information for available medical services and available air ambulance
services on the Embassy’s Medical Assistance page.
Most hospitals will not accept medical insurance from the U.S.
Hospitals in major cities may accept credit cards for payment, but U.S.
citizens have frequently encountered difficulty due to cultural and regulatory
differences. Travelers typically must post a deposit prior to admission to
cover the expected cost of treatment. Consider buying foreign medical care and
medical evacuation (medevac) insurance prior to arrival. Consult with your
medical insurance company prior to traveling abroad to confirm whether the
policy applies overseas, and if it will cover emergency expenses such as a
medevac. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the United
States, carry both your insurance policy identity card as proof and a claim
form. Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and
reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medical
evacuation back to the United States. The
U.S. Department of State strongly recommends purchasing international health
insurance before traveling internationally. Review the State Department’s
webpage on insurance overseas.
air quality is often an issue in China. Find air quality ratings for Beijing
and other U.S. Mission China posts at the Air
Quality Index website. Pollutants
such as particle pollution are linked to a number of significant health
effects. Those effects are likely to be more severe for sensitive populations,
including people with heart or lung disease, children, and older adults. Travelers with chronic respiratory or
cardiovascular health conditions should speak with their health care provider
prior to traveling to Chinese cities with poor air quality.
prescription medication in original packaging, along with the prescription.
Many common U.S. drugs and medications are not available in China, and
counterfeit, low-quality knockoffs are prevalent. If you try to have
medications sent to you from outside China, you may have problems getting Chinese
Customs to release them and/or you may have to pay high customs duties. Review
OSAC’s report, Traveling with
roads and towns in Tibet, Qinghai, parts of Xinjiang, and western Sichuan are
situated at altitudes over 10,000 feet. Take appropriate precautions to prepare
for and be alert to altitude sickness. Review OSAC’s report, Traveling in High Altitude.
following diseases are prevalent: influenza; typhoid; measles; hepatitis A; hepatitis
B; and tuberculosis. No China-specific vaccinations are required, but some are
recommended. Rh-negative blood may be difficult to obtain; the blood type of
the general Asian populace is Rh-positive. The CDC
offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for China.
Review OSAC’s reports, The Healthy Way, I’m Drinking What in My Water?, Shaken: The Don’ts of Alcohol Abroad, Health 101: How to Prepare for
Travel, and Fire Safety Abroad.
OSAC Country Council
Regional Security Office (RSO) is actively seeking to re-launch the OSAC
Beijing Country Council and to establish a regular meeting schedule. Those
interested in participating in the Country Council or contacting the RSO should
contact OSAC’s Asia-Pacific Team.
U.S. Embassy Contact Information
No. 55 An Jia Lou Road, Chaoyang
District, Beijing 100600
Hours: Monday-Friday 0800-1700
(except U.S. and Chinese holidays)
Embassy Operator: +86-10-8531-3000
Citizen Services: BeijingACS@state.gov
Other U.S. Diplomatic Posts in China
Chengdu, No. 4 Lingshiguan Road, Chengdu, Sichuan, PRC 610041. +86-28-8558-3992.
Consulate Guangzhou: Huaxia Road, Zhujiang New Town,Tianhe
District, Guangzhou. +86-20-3814-5000.
Shanghai: 1469 Huai Hai Zhong Road, Shanghai,
200031. +86-21 8011-2200.
Shenyang: No. 52, 14 Wei Road,
Heping District, Shenyang, Liaoning Province 110003. +86-24-2322-1198.
Wuhan: Room 4701, New World International Trade Tower I, No. 568,
Jianshe Avenue, Jianghan District, Wuhan 430022. +86-27-8555-7791.
Before you travel, consider the following
OSAC Risk Matrix
OSAC Travelers Toolkit
State Department Traveler’s Checklist
Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP)