Before travelling to China, or indeed any destination, it is good practice to check the travel advice pages of your own government’s website for up to the minute advice on travel and especially for specific threats to your safety based on your nationality, gender, race or sexual persuasion. 

When travelling in China, you are required to have your passport on your person at all times. Police checks are common and failure to produce identification can lead to detention and a fine. 

In the modern age, terrorism is a global problem that can affect anyone, anywhere. Aside from the general threat that any traveller needs to consider, in the case of China, with its highly complex ethnic structure and related separatist movements, terrorist attacks, although rare, have occurred in Beijing, Kunming and especially Xinjiang province in northwest China. 

Although these attacks are domestically motivated and are not specifically targeted at foreigners, they have nevertheless occurred in public spaces. 

Due to territorial disputes with Japan, and a thorny history of general antipathy, people of Japanese ethnicity can be at additional risk in China due to periodic anti-Japanese demonstrations. 

Natural disasters are also fairly frequent in China, such as earthquakes. During the heavy summer rains major flooding and landslides can also occur. The typhoon season, which falls between May and November, can occasionally severely affect the far south and eastern shores of China. 

Crime is, of course, prevalent everywhere in the world, and in China thieves and pickpockets commonly target tourists for portable technology, handbags and luggage, purses, wallets and passports especially at busy tourist sites and markets. 

If using a taxi, be sure to use an officially marked and metered vehicle. 

Be careful where you point your camera. Never photograph the police, military personnel and installations, or demonstrations, which you should in any case avoid and particularly never participate in, most especially in politically sensitive Tibet. In times of protest it is common for social media and websites to be blocked. Many such sites are, in any case, routinely unavailable in China. 

Gambling is illegal in Mainland China, though not in Hong Kong and Macau. In Beijing, smoking is banned in public places such as restaurants and transport systems. 

Never use illegal drugs. It is relatively common for the Chinese Authorities to randomly test foreign nationals under suspicion.  

If you test positive, prosecution is certain, even if the residual compounds were imbibed prior to entry into China. Detention is no picnic, nor is the legal system, which does not presume innocence, and penalties for drug offences are extremely severe, including the death penalty, which the authorities will not hesitate to use even on foreigners. China’s judiciary annually executes around 10.000 persons found guilty of offences.

Dual nationality is not recognised in China and foreign nationals who were born in China, should be aware that they may be treated under the law as Chinese citizens, regardless of the passport they are carrying, and may also be prevented from accessing the consular services of their resident country.

Homosexuality is no longer illegal in China, though under Chinese law, there are no protective rights and in traditional and ethnic areas it is by far best to be discreet and respectful of local traditional views for your own security.  

Overt religious activism in China is dangerous and preaching or the distribution of pamphlets of any sort is absolutely forbidden.

 

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