The current U.S. Department of State Travel Advisory at the date of this report’s publication assesses China at Level 2, indicating travelers should exercise increased caution due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.
Overall Crime and Safety Situation
The U.S. Consulate General in Wuhan does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The American Citizen Services (ACS) Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or establishment and assumes no responsibility for the quality of services provided.
Review OSAC’s China-specific webpage proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.
There is minimal risk from crime in Wuhan.
The Chinese government strictly controls and monitors the Internet. Many popular services and websites (Google, Twitter, and Facebook) are blocked. Viruses, malware, and other malicious software are common. 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.
Other Areas of Concern
Counterfeit currency is less of concern because of the increasing use of smartphones for digital payments, but some counterfeiting, especially 100 RMB notes, continues. For more information, see the OSAC Report Common China Scams.
Road Safety and Road Conditions
Road conditions in Wuhan and the surrounding cities are generally good; in contrast, driving conditions in rural areas are usually poor. Avoid driving outside the city after dark due to poor lighting and road hazards, including stopped vehicles and other obstructions.
The greatest road hazard remains the Chinese driver. Drivers are often either overly cautious or aggressive, resulting in numerous accidents every day. Drivers rarely adhere to traffic laws, and policing occurs remotely by video camera (mainly through speed traps). Yielding to oncoming traffic/pedestrians and signaling one’s intentions in advance are virtually unheard of. Traffic signals are absent at key locations, stop signs are often non-existent, and road closures are poorly marked, if at all. Incidents of individuals driving while impaired are also relatively common. In traffic accidents involving expatriates, the expatriate is often at fault, regardless of the actual cause. Do not to argue with another party involved in a traffic accident, regardless of responsibility.
Do not overreact to aggressive driving by local nationals; attempt to defuse the situation in a safe and timely manner.
Electric scooters are numerous and maneuver through any available gap in traffic, often without any engine noise to signal their presence. Delivery scooter drivers, wanting to make the quickest delivery, often drive down crowded sidewalks and completely disregard traffic lights or other traffic regulations. At night, operators of electric scooters and bicycles often do not turn on lights to indicate their presence. During inclement weather, Chinese drivers do not slow down to match the conditions. Accident rates increase during heavy rain and skyrocket during incidents of snow.
Public Transportation Conditions
Taxis are inexpensive and relatively reliable. Use marked cabs, and avoid unofficial cabs. Do not negotiate the price of a trip; if the taxi driver refuses to use the meter, take a different taxi.
Ride sharing services are popular. The most common Chinese ride sharing service in Wuhan is Didi. You can configure the Didi app for English-language use and for U.S. credit cards. Most Didi cars at the Premier level have seatbelts, whereas regular taxis do not.
Public transportation in Wuhan is modern and extensive. Buses, subways, and taxis are of relatively new design. However, they are often crowded.
Wuhan has three train stations with numerous destinations throughout China. The G-series high-speed trains are safe and rarely delayed.
There are numerous domestic and international flights out of Wuhan’s International Airport (WUH). As with much of mainland China, flight delays are common, especially in the afternoon and evening.
There is minimal risk from terrorism in Wuhan. China’s domestic counterterrorism efforts remain primarily focused against the East Turkestan Islamic Movement (ETIM, also known as the East Turkestan Islamic Party, or ETIP), a Pakistan-based terrorist group, which seeks independence for the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region (XUAR) of northwestern China. In public statements, Chinese government officials have singled out the “Three Evils” of extremism, separatism, and terrorism in Xinjiang as the main terrorist threat to the nation and characterized Uighur discontent as terrorist activity. Human rights organizations maintain that China uses counterterrorism as a pretext to suppress Uighurs, a predominantly Muslim ethnic group comprising a large percentage of the population in Xinjiang.
The lack of transparency and information provided by Chinese authorities and media about alleged terrorist incidents greatly complicates efforts to verify the details of those and other violent acts. In many of the domestic incidents labeled as terrorism, China alleges that ETIM influenced or directed the violence through its online propaganda. The government prevents foreign journalists and international observers from independently verifying official media accounts, which are often the only source of reporting on violent incidents in its territory.
Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence
There is minimal risk from civil unrest in Wuhan. Police are generally quick to react to violent outbreaks, sometimes using force to subdue disturbances. The government remains focused on maintaining social stability and preventing civil unrest over economic and social grievances.
Protests outside of official U.S. facilities occur occasionally, but gatherings are typically small, relatively peaceful, and generally focused against the Chinese government. Geopolitical events often influence the occurrence of political demonstrations, but such demonstrations are rarely out of the control of Chinese security services.
In 2016, Wuhan experienced significant flooding. At least 180 people in the central provinces died during the flooding due to heavy rains. Wuhan’s Central Business District was impassable for two days, and guests at a major U.S.-brand hotel evacuated by boat.
Accidents and fatalities continue to plague China’s heavy industries. Worker safety and quality assurance are lacking.
Several U.S. firms have complained about theft of intellectual property, and at least one is pursuing legal action in Chinese courts. Many of the foreign prisoners in Wuhan’s consular district are incarcerated for business- and financial-related crimes. A lack of transparency regarding business practices is as a danger for foreigners who wish to conduct business in China.
Maintain no reasonable expectation of privacy in public or private locations. The Consulate regularly receives reports of human and technical monitoring of U.S. private businesspersons and visiting U.S. citizens. The areas around U.S. and other foreign diplomatic facilities and residences are under overt physical and video surveillance: dozens of security personnel are outside of facilities and around residences; video cameras are visible throughout diplomatic quarters (offices and residential neighborhoods). Overt microphones and video cameras are common in taxis.
All hotel rooms and offices are subject to on-site or remote technical monitoring. Authorities access hotel rooms, residences, and offices without the occupants’ consent/knowledge. Elevators and public areas of housing compounds are under continuous surveillance.
Consulate employees must avoid discussing sensitive information in their homes, vehicles, or offices. Members of the private sector should take similar precautions to safeguard sensitive, personal, and proprietary information.
Authorities monitor all means of communication (e.g. telephones, mobile phones, faxes, e-mails, text messages). The Chinese government has access to the infrastructure operated by the limited number of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) and wireless providers operating in the country. Wireless access to the Internet in major metropolitan areas is becoming more and more common. As such, the Chinese can access official and personal computers more easily. The Chinese government has publicly declared that it regularly monitors private e-mail and Internet browsing through cooperation with local ISPs. Some bloggers are subject to particular scrutiny; authorities often carefully monitor such activity and, depending upon the subject matter, block it.
Kidnappings 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 phones (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. In addition, the government has placed travel bans on foreigners involved in business disputes. 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.
Personal Identity Concerns
Dual U.S.-Chinese nationals and U.S. citizens of Chinese heritage may be at a higher risk of facing special scrutiny.
Reports of discrimination based on gender, sexual orientation, race, nationality, disability, etc. are relatively uncommon.
The Chinese government is concerned about domestic drug use, and enforcement efforts are widespread. Illicit drugs still reportedly remain available to both Chinese and expatriates. Drug use may result in harsh sentences and fines. Drug dealing can result in the death penalty.
China often enforces local laws arbitrarily, and places special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.
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 coercively:
- 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; there is no method to find out how long the ban may continue. Authorities have harassed and threatened U.S. citizens under exit bans.
Authorities may detained U.S. citizens without access to U.S. consular services or information about their alleged crime. U.S. citizens may be subject to prolonged interrogations and extended detention for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel may detain and/or deport U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.
China gives the police the authority to detain and deport foreigners for a wide variety of reasons. Police may take travelers who do not have their passport with them in for questioning. Travelers should have their passport and visa with them, or at least a copy (digital photos on a smartphone will often suffice). English-language capabilities will vary significantly.
Police officers have the right to assess fines on the scene of an incident. You may perceive this is as soliciting a bribe, but it is not.
Investigative training and forensic equipment are improving, but remain substandard in comparison with those of Western countries. The Embassy never receives reports of investigations, despite repeated formal requests.
How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment
Police have the authority to detain and deport foreigners for a wide variety of reasons. Authorities may detain for questioning travelers who do not have their passport with them. If police arrest a U.S. citizen, the U.S.-China Consular Convention requires Chinese authorities to notify the U.S. Embassy/Consulate of the arrest within four days. If a traveler holds the citizenship of another country and entered China using a passport of that country, 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. Suspects can be subject to detention for many months before authorities grant a trial.
Crime Victim Assistance
If U.S. citizens become the victim of a crime, contact the police by dialing 110, though English-language capabilities may vary significantly. They may also contact American Citizen Services (ACS) at the Consulate. ACS officers can recommend appropriate medical facilities, provide contact information for local attorneys, notify family members, and explain how to transfer funds to China.
Police response to foreign victims of crime depends upon the type of infraction, where it transpired, and the social status of the victim (e.g. private citizen, diplomat, VIP). Urban forces receive 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 person of importance. In many cases, local police authorities will discourage victims of crime from filing an official report with the police and will, attempt to serve as a mediator between the victim and criminal to agree upon financial compensation, sometimes in lieu of jail time.
Wuhan has two Western-style medical facilities with international staff. Theses clinics have reasonably up-to-date medical technology and skilled physicians who speak some English.
Wuhan has ten Emergency Centers spread throughout the city. According to a 2018 city report, the average ambulance response time was 12 minutes. Since traffic congestion is often severe and yielding to emergency vehicles is not normal, injured or moderately ill patients may elect to take taxis or other immediately available vehicles to the nearest emergency center rather than waiting for ambulances to arrive. Although not as well equipped or trained as their Western counterparts, ambulance services are competent. Consulate medical staff recommend waiting for the ambulance for serious illnesses or life-threatening injuries.
In rural areas, only rudimentary medical facilities are generally available. 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 emergencies.
Dial 120 to request an ambulance or 119 for the fire department; English-speaking dispatchers are limited.
Contact Information for International Clinics
Wuhan Union Hospital International Clinic
2nd Floor Union Hospital West, 149 Shen Long Da Dao, Hanyang
Address for taxi: 汉阳武汉经济技术开发区神龙大道58号协和医院（西区）
Tongji Hospital 同济医院
International Medical Service Department
Phone: +86-27-8366-3039, 8366-2396
Emergency contact: Silja ZHANG +86-13995583508，Manting WANG +86-18702712570
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com
Address: #1095 Jiefang Avenue, Hankou, Wuhan, Hubei
地址：湖北省武汉市汉口解放大道 1095 号
Available Air Ambulance Services
Air ambulance service varies by city. International SOS is the main Western air ambulance provider. MEDEX also provides regional air ambulance services.
Medical evacuation (medevac) by air is expensive, costing U.S. $60,000-$100,000 per flight depending upon the patient's condition and final destination. Strongly consider purchasing medevac insurance prior to travel.
Payment of hospital and other expenses is the patient’s responsibility. Before you go abroad, learn what medical services your health insurance will cover overseas. If your health insurance policy provides coverage outside the U.S., carry your insurance policy identity card as proof of such insurance and a claim form. Although many health insurance companies will pay "customary and reasonable" hospital costs abroad, very few will pay for your medevac back to the U.S.
Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance
No China-specific vaccinations are required to visit, but air quality can be an issue. Pollutants such as particle pollution link 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. U.S. citizens living in or traveling to China should consult their doctor prior to traveling to areas with significant air pollution and should take precautions while in China. Wuhan’s Air Quality Index is routinely in the range of 101-150 or “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups.” The AQI in winter often reaches the range of 151-200 or “Unhealthy.” The U.S. Embassy and Consulates have air quality monitors to measure PM 2.5 particulates as an indication of the air quality.
The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for China.
OSAC Country Council Information
Wuhan does not currently have an OSAC Country Council. Please contact OSAC’s Asia Pacific team if you are interested in private-sector engagement in Wuhan or have questions about OSAC’s Country Council programs.
U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information
Consulate Address and Hours of Operation
New World International Trade Tower I, N. 568 Jianshe Avenue, Hankou, Wuhan 430022
Open 0800-1700, except U.S. and Chinese holidays.
U.S. Consulate General Wuhan is not open for routine consular operations and cannot provide passport assistance, notarial services, or other routine services at this time. Until the new consular section opens – planned in late 2019 – those seeking routine consular services should contact either U.S. Embassy Beijing or another U.S. Consulate. Wuhan consular staff are available and may be able to assist victims of crime or violence, who are or have been detained by the police, facing medical (to include death) emergencies or other situations. American citizens seeking such emergency assistance can contact the Wuhan Consulate directly during business hours. After hours, they should contact the Embassy Beijing operator for transfer to a consular duty officer for assistance.
Consulate Contact Numbers
Nearby Posts: Embassy Beijing, Consulate General Chengdu, Consulate General Guangzhou, Consulate General Shanghai, Consulate General Shenyang
U.S. citizens residing or traveling in China should register their travel itinerary and contact information on STEP with the U.S. Embassy or closest U.S. Embassy or Consulate.
Additional Resource: China Country Information Sheet