China Warns Its Citizens That the US is Too Dangerous to Visit

We all have perceptions of risk, and they often vary widely from what the data actually says. My willingness to visit certain parts of the world is colored in the opposite direction from most people. Living for many years in Alexandria, Virginia and working in Arlington my daily commute took me past the Pentagon. This wasn’t just a potential primary military target, it had actually been attacked directly on 9/11 when a hijacked aircraft crashed into the building.

Most places have less risk than this. Years ago when I traveled to Cyprus as a result of Alitalia’s $33+tax fat finger business class fare from Toronto which allowed stopovers in Italy, a friend of my wife’s was afraid for us. Turkey invaded, after all, in 1974 following a military coup there.

Beach in Cyprus

I’ll be traveling to Beirut this year, which people in general seem to think is unsafe (if they know where it is at all) perhaps because they vaguely recall the 1983 US Embassy bombing there. Admittedly I won’t be going near Lebanon’s border with Syri.

There are plenty of places I won’t go of course. The United States isn’t one of those places, entirely apart from the fact that I already live here.

As trade disputes heat up between the U.S. and China, the Chinese government has issued a warning for travelers to the United States (HT: Live and Let’s Fly).

“Public security in the United States is not good. Cases of shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent,” the embassy said in the alert published on Thursday to its website.

“Travellers in the United States should be alert to their surroundings and suspicious individuals, and avoid going out alone at night.”

Maybe the U.S. is Nothing But Moon Shine

China has done this before, though added natural disaster risk to the concerns people should be aware of when considering a trip to the States.

The U.S. government too issues myriad travel warnings. Often they’re over-cautious. If the U.S. government says some place is unsafe, it’s usually blindingly obvious — unless they’re the only one saying so in which case the warning is more for bureaucratic reasons than citizen protection.

And foreign governments warning their citizens about travel to the U.S. is hardly new.

  • Brits, Germans, and Japanese were warned not to get sick in the States, because of the high cost of healthcare.
  • Austrians were warned against sunbathing topless, and that while tap water is safe it doesn’t taste very good.
  • The French government has warned citizens that Americans may see their jokes as sexual harassment
  • Russians have been impressed by public restrooms in the U.S.
  • And China has long offered outbound tourists to the U.S. crucial etiquette advice,

    “[D]o not smoke or spit while walking,” and “hold the door” for people behind you.

    Most important, Chinese tourists are reminded that Americans believe in standing in line without shoving past the people standing in front of you: “Do not jump the queue! In the United States, when many people are queuing for services … they will be lined up to wait in the order they arrived. Failure to comply with this order could lead to unnecessary disputes.”

China’s warning is mostly symbolic. It’s unlikely to have a material effect on travel to the U.S. However it does add one more communication to the growing chorus of voices suggesting that the U.S. isn’t a welcoming place, which is anathema to those of us who care about travel and developing an understanding of the world around us.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. I agree with you given the current events it’s more phycological than anything else. If one wants “rude” ( western standards) travel to China. But then tit for tat is not in order.

    Good post

  2. If China believes the United States is so unsafe, then all of the Chinese students attending college in the USA should immediately fly home…..on a Chinese carrier, of course.

    Somehow, we’ll get along just fine without you.

  3. I don’t think the headline is accurate. The advisory seems to be just that — an advisory — and doesn’t seem (according to the original article) to inform anybody that the US is “too dangerous to visit” or that such travel should be avoided. Frankly, it doesn’t sound like ill considered advice to me, and I would be grateful to the Chinese government if they could convince US citizens of the rudeness of smoking while walking, as well as their own.

    Very interested in hearing about the trip to Lebanon, which I have also been considering.

  4. Buford the 30% sez theyre ferners so dont pay them no mind. Everything is better here because we’re white, fat except for the cheeto coloring. His children go without health care because we dont do things like the longest lasting societies have organized themselves to care for all. Thats socialism, the reason Buford has guns. He trusts on Trump because hes rich and mean and tells it like it is gor fat racist sexist white baboons. Buford and his 30% are viewrd worldwide ad the stupidest creatires on earth, destoyers of civilization.

  5. @WilliamC Because of state budget cuts to higher ed, the chinese students at public universities are subsidizing the students paying in-state tuition. They are cash cows for the universities …

  6. anon: You are correct, the Chinese students can probably teach our students a thing or two about dedication, honor, hard work and sacrifice in addition to paying the RIDICULOUS tuition for out-of-state students (I don’t recall an additional surcharge for non-U.S. students but wouldn’t be surprised) and the nice boost to our economy as they spend while here as well.
    @Greg: you’re sadly not wrong, we have a very large percentage of ignorant- by- choice (mostly) people who support the baboon-in-chief and actually believe the hate and lies he spews out on a daily basis, I fear it will get much, much worse before his regime ends. This has been the most divisive administration ever, it has divided friends, families, co-workers…it is actually becoming a society where you have to be careful who you share your views with because if you support the wrong party, it can affect everything from being hired for a job to being an outcast in your family or community. It is like a bad tv movie…

  7. Greg,
    Do you get up every morning and just light the crack pipe for breakfast? What will you do to fill the time once Trump is out of office in 2024……..?

  8. @anon

    Then I guess the universities better tighten their belts or charge more tuition to the in-state students.

  9. As a non-white American, China might actually be right on this one. Being non-white in America is significantly more dangerous, especially if you happen to be of a darker skin tone. Don’t even get me started on being black, being black in America is dangerous as hell because you can’t trust the police not to kill you.

    @David J Szerlag, it’s the Trump supporters who are lighting the crack pipe for breakfast. Rural whites are the ones dying the most from the opioid epidemic after all.

  10. It is dangerous to be non white outside the large urban centers preferably in Blue states. Most foreign students actually do prefer to attend school in large urban centers mitigating the risk to an extent and taking precautions of the type that would be foreign to the white population.

    Conversely it is safer to be non white in certain foreign countries where hatred for America is embedded in the population

  11. @Marcus +1

    You are right on with both points. Naive travelers may not consider the anti-American sentiment they might experience abroad. It was definitely palpable in some areas when I took a RTW trip in 2016 (before the election). I can only imagine how my next RTW trip will go in a couple months from now.

  12. The headline is ridiculous – nowhere do they say the U.S. is too dangerous to visit. (Although by measures of violent crime the U.S. is a much more dangerous place than China.) The Chinese government’s advice on etiquette is actually totally on-point for Chinese visitors.

  13. China may be right. As European I also consider the US as a violent country. The most scary thing is that much of the violence is institutional, people in uniform being violent. This typically only happens in police states.

  14. @Greg

    Love it! The percentage is more like 44%, than 30%. But hey creatons control everything now. Time for a civil war.

  15. The Chinese are no different from the Europeans, or from our own State Department. Here is what the State Department says about travel to China:

    “Exercise increased caution in China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals.

    Chinese authorities have the broad ability to prohibit travelers from leaving China (also known as ‘exit bans’); exit bans have been imposed to compel U.S. citizens to resolve business disputes, force settlement of court orders, or facilitate government investigations. Individuals not involved in legal proceedings or suspected of wrongdoing have also be subjected to lengthy exit bans in order to compel their family members or colleagues to cooperate with Chinese courts or investigators.

    U.S. citizens visiting or residing in China have been arbitrarily interrogated or detained for reasons related to “state security.” Security personnel have detained and/or deported U.S. citizens for sending private electronic messages critical of the Chinese government.

    China may refuse to acknowledge dual U.S.-Chinese nationals’ U.S. citizenship, including denying U.S. assistance to detained dual nationals, and preventing their departure from China. If a dual U.S.-Chinese national enters China on a Chinese government travel document, such as, but not limited to, a Chinese passport or a national ID card, U.S. consular officers will not be allowed to visit the individual or assist in interactions with the Chinese government should the individual be arrested, detained, or involved in criminal or civil investigation.”

    The OSAC (Overseas Safety and Crime) report on Beijing is even more detailed and frightening: See,

    A lot of the warnings in Gary’s article is information about cultural differences. Wherever we go, we are guests in that host country, and we act accordingly. I have no concerns about China, or anyone else, educating their tourists about our idiosyncrasies. I won’t stand behind people while they are eating in a restaurant in the U.S. — but I would in China if I want the table. (It’s not considered impolite.)

    Both governments are right. I would not walk alone at night in significant parts of most U.S. cities, including San Francisco, Orlando, New York and Washington — cities where Chinese citizens are likely to visit. On the other hand, in Shanghai, we had an incident with a shopkeeper, and a threat to call the PSB (the Public Security Bureau) on the spot resolved the situation .

    We’re going to Russia later this month. The State Department says “Reconsider Travel”. And Lebanon has the same State Department threat level as Russia. We’ll still go. Just like Gary won’t visit the Syrian Border, we won’t go to the Caucasus. We’ll be fine.

  16. The Chinese are correct; drop your kids off at school – pretty good chance they’ll get gunned down; visit Vegas strip – pretty good chance you’ll get gunned down; go to the movies – same thing, etc., etc.. But…God bless the NRA and republicans, let’s all get nice and angry and break out the assault weapons. Yes, good old USA #1 in all the wrong categories.

  17. Andre :

    On my recent international travel, the most common response from foreigners to a traveling American has been not “anti-Americanism” so much as pity. Followed by either curiosity (“How could Trump have happened?”) or a painful avoidance of any topics that might embarrass the visitor.

  18. I have lived in Cyprus for 20 years , one of the safest places in the world and far safer that USA. Single women can walk in town by themselves at night . No muggings. No bag/purse or mobile snatchings.

    Interesting perception on USA supported by people in Hong Kong . My Sister is a University adviser in Hong Kong and this year at her school there were only 2 applications for US universities , rest are for HK ( 75% ) Canada ,Australia and Europe. Two years ago there were 25 for USA
    USA is seen as dangerous and foreign students cannot get gun licenses to protect themselves whereas Europe ,and Australia has gun control . Not lots of new foreign students coming so Trump gets his wish , less foreigners !!

    China report may also be ”sour grapes” following Trumps trade import duty increases on China products

  19. With the NRA’s puppet in power, and refusing to enact any gun control legislation, why anyone think this was a super safe place to visit? They see the news, read the statistics, and compare it to whatever country they are from. We do the same when it comes to Honduras, Venezuela or some of the Middle East.

  20. The U.S. really should ban all guns and hope it works out as well as it did for:
    human trafficking

    The same people who say a wall at the southern border is a bad idea because it just won’t work, seem to think outlawing guns will purge the filthy metal.

  21. @Retired lawyer i had to laugh when you wrote you would not walk around significantly parts of NY at night? How many times have you been here? Its the safest large city in the entire country and even teenage girls are comfortable walking around the city on their own at night. The areas that are dangerous at night are usually pretty far out and places where tourists would never be anyway and certainly not significant areas of the city.

  22. People talking about anti-amerucan sentiment apparently didnt travel much before Trump. I temember living in europe when bill clinton was president and americans living abroad being targetted by thugs just because they were americans. I remrmber the graffiti in france of usa=nazi. Yea and that was under bipll clinton so europe has never been very tolerant towards American but i agree trump makes it worse. Meanwhile in some countries i go to they dont think trump is bad at all (im not even kidding)

  23. @JC we know you’re into scat play. Stop transference. Seek help.
    Or get laid. Although with your hateful personality you probably won’t.

  24. @747always: Jethro, it’s obvious your issues are congenital. You started inventing stories about flying, in forward cabins no less, while daydreaming on the reform school bus on the way to those monthly outings and it just snowballed from there.

    A clue “son”: Just because after exiting your mommy’s room after a romp in the hay I pat you on your pointy little noggin doesn’t mean I’m your dad.

  25. @JC brings up her incestous past. The question is was JC the one who started it. Having met her family, I can only say that Jc has some very disgusting taste in humans. But it also explains her anger. She hates being attracted to syphilitic hordes.
    Seek help JC

  26. @747always: Poor Jethro, the men going in and out your mother’s door every night are not family. To alleviate the trauma, you invent stories. Our favorite fables are about you and your family on planes. Everybody knows you can’t use your food stamps to buy airfare and your son has to first finish primary school before he can dream of cleaning toilets on planes.

  27. @JC Aww, ickle Just a Cunt got butt hurt coz shes so anal retentive. Go ask your mum. Shes happy to see anyone except you. She is absolutely disgusted with the way you turned out, inspite of your parents best efforts, and wishes she had aborted you.

  28. Als @JC, never claimed to fly up front. Another figment of your fevered imagination to join the one where you think your parents love you. No one loves you @JustaC*#@. Your parents still wish they had aborted you.

  29. @747always: Jethro Wedl, tell your son, Monte, to stay out of prison. This is one time like father, like son is not good.

  30. @Jc you might have some progeny from your incestous relationships, but unlike you, I have used protection and have no progeny. Oh wait. Your parents have bailed you out jail so much you’re transferring that on to others. No wonder they want you to keep away from them.
    Ps. Just spoke to your Mum and she echoes these sentiments.

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