Home > China Fascts > China Overview > Safety and Security

Safety and Security

General Introduction

“Public security departments at different levels and police officials should soberly realise the special importance of maintaining stability”, security Chief Zhou Yongkang said, South China Morning Post - Saturday, May 19. 2012.

“(The police should) further enhance their capabilities to crack down on crimes, serve people and maintain national security and social stability”.

China is not a country; it’s an entire world marked with diversity.

There are thus precautions to be taken with reference to security following the place where the tourists travel because the safety is not the same in Shanghai than in deep China for example or in the big cities of the South as Shenzhen or Guangzhou ( Canton).

In Shanghai, the security is total. Nevertheless, in the place of interest or in the rich shopping malls (Xujiahui), it is advised to pay attention to pickpockets and avoid following people making proposals of all kinds in the streets: massage, coffee, DVD, watches, clothes... The district of Zha’Bei, the sanctuary of populations of eccentrics and ex-convict, should possibly be avoided too.

For a doubtless equal outcome, the feeling of safety is different in Beijing that in Shanghai. The reason is the servicemen who march past regularly by small groups in numerous streets.

In Shenzhen and Guangzhou (Canton), be all eyes and cautious if walking alone. From time to time foreigners are assaulted in the streets of these cities of the South, at times drawn to a withdrawing machine forced to remove money...

Vigilance is also recommended in the isolated provinces where the tourists can be perceived as a “cash pot”.

China is not a dangerous country. It is one of the safest countries of the world, considering its size and especially when you take into account the vast disparity between rich and poor. The rate of criminality is very low, and there is practically no violent crime committed against the tourists.  Even late in the evening, the travellers should not worry. The Chinese are pleasant and friendly, and the Chinese laws are rather strict. If there is a problem, just signify it at once to a guard or to the police. The more you will be confident and open, the more your experiences will grow rich of all the unforeseen of people above all welcoming and warm.

However, this isn’t to say that crime is non-existent; indeed petty theft is increasingly common and a few basic precautions should help you to stay trouble-free.

As everywhere, it's better to avoid a pretentious behaviour. So, on markets, it is better to use small notes rather than to take out a bundle of big ones. All the hotels in China have safes in the rooms or boxes of security at the reception; suggested is to place the valuables inside or, otherwise, in a locked suitcase. In trains, or other public transportation, avoid leaving your passport and your money far from you.  Be aware of your personal space in crowded or heavily touristic areas too - where there are sometimes pickpockets- and if you’re concerned about your other valuables such as your camera, keep them in front of you.

In case of stealing, indicate it first of all to your hotel or to your guide. If you’re not accompanied, a local police commissioner (Gong An Ju) will take your statement. Also think of warning as quickly as possible your insurance, which will open you automatically a corresponding file. To wait for your return in your country means setting the risk of declaration deadlines.

In case of loss or theft of your passport: declare immediately to the authorities of local police. This report is determining to kick away your responsibility in case of fraudulent use of the passport. Go then at the consulate of your country, provide the declaration of loss of passport supplied by the police, of two passport photos on white bottom and the photocopy of your passport, as well as from the Chinese visa (in fact, it is fundamental to have thought to photocopy these documents along with insurance documents and tickets preserved in a safe place). You will have to re-pay an exit visa.

An advice: scan your passport, and send the file on your Internet messaging.

Other incident susceptible to disorder your stay: it can arrive that the phone rings in your hotel room during the night.  A charming voice will try to bring you out of your bed. The call girls use more and more this way to find clients...

Another popular trick: Students or a couple of young women approach you, delighted to speak English with you; they know a great tearoom, café or art display and invite you there. Seems really nice, until you have to pay ... and if you refuse, the doors may be closed and a few heavies might appear...; just avoid the scenario if you are confronting to.

Bank notes: be careful for the fake.

The insecurity of State: China evolved in its tourist policy. The past existing obligation for the tourists to be chaperoned by a guide does no longer subsist.

Photography: you should only take pictures of people who are happy to have their photo taken and also be aware that it’s forbidden to take photographs at certain sites deemed of military importance (airports, bridges), and at some tourist locales like the Terracotta Warriors (although this rule is flagrantly ignored by many visitors).

Traffic, is a major hazard for the cautious and incautious alike. In Hong Kong and Macau, driving is on the left, and road signs and traffic lights are obeyed. In mainland China, driving is on the right, at least occasionally. The rules of the road are routinely overridden by one rule:”I’m bigger than you, so get out of my way”, and pedestrians are at the bottom of the pecking order. Cyclists ride along the sidewalks, and cars also mount sidewalks right in front of you and park across your path as if you don’t exist. The vehicle drivers are competing for any way to move into the space ahead, constantly changing lanes and crossing each other’ paths. Pedestrians are pausing between lanes as cars sweep by to either of them. Even though China has only a slight percentage of world’s cars, it already has a lot of traffic-accident fatalities in contrast.


From a sanitary point of view, 2002 and 2003 were marked by the SRAS (Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome), then in 2005 by the bird flu contagious by narrow contact with fowls; the chicken in particular, alive or dead, and their droppings (but not by the very cooked chicken, of course!). Diverse epidemics, of this type seem to be able to emerge at any time in China.

The country, besides, is almost a continent to its own, with big climatic contrasts and thus sanitary disparities. Globally, besides the luxury hotels of the big metropolises, it is (still) a poor country with a very precarious hygiene. Consequently, there are no good quality health establishments outside the big industrial and commercial areas (in these districts, establishments of international quality are located, but usually at a high price); a good reason, thus, to leave duly vaccinate and assured.


While you’re not required to have any inoculations to enter China check that you are up-to-date with your vaccinations, particularly hepatitis A and B, tetanus, typhoid, tuberculosis. And if you plan to spend a lot of time with animals or out in the wilds, a rabies shot isn’t a bad idea.

The water is useless all over China

The water was always dangerous in China, and recognized as such by the population. Very early, well before Pasteur, the Chinese had got used to drinking water only boiled, and drink it usually still warm (as they found it generally rather flat, they got used  to putting tea leaves in it ...).

Everywhere it is possible to find some boiled water: if in a restaurant you ask for some water, it will arrive often warm in a glass. Small plastic or metal cylinders with at the top a removable filter are provided as well to a very cheap price in all places and allow to put some tea inside and to stock up boiled water all day long.

Recommended is to avoiding drinking untreated water (this includes brushing your teeth with it!) and to be watchful with ice cubes in drinks because alcohol does NOT provide protection).

Diseases transmitted by the food supply due to the bad hygiene

Travellers' diarrhea: Though it is more often a self-limiting sickness, it can nevertheless ruin three to four days of a holiday or require adjustment of holiday plans.

Ingestion of contaminated food and water is considered to be the most important means of transmission of travellers' diarrhea.

To escape to it, it is essential to follow a few basic hygiene measures: avoid raw vegetables and salad, fruits and vegetables which are neither peeled, nor cooked, uncooked or rare-cooked meat or fish, shells, prefer industrial dairies and drinks. Be careful with fresh fruit juices, cheese, ice cream and any kind of street vendor food. Don’t forget to wash your hands often and keep your nails clean. Those will also protect you from amoebas and other very wide-spread parasites.

The best would be to have medicines stopping the diarrhea with you because to get medicines in China could be more difficult as most of the "pharmacists" read only the Chinese and the counterfeits are numerous.

There is little cholera in China, and it is extremely rare that a tourist catches it. As for the polio, it is not eradicated yet, but all the travellers should be - we hope for it - duly inoculated, as well as against the hepatitis A and the typhoid, very frequent.

Diseases transmitted by mosquitoes

Mosquito-borne illnesses aren’t a serious problem in most parts of China.

The malaria is actually limited to zones which are little frequented by the tourists: does occur in the south, notably in Hainan and southern Yunnan (especially in rainy season. If you have to stay in these provinces, in rural zone and at night, there is a small risk of transmission.

The dengue fever raises a more serious problem, breaking out periodically on all south half of China, and which is steadily increasing.

If the possibility of contracting by a mosquito bite the Japanese encephalitis or the lymphatic filariose, can be added, it is advisable to have a protection against these bites: keeping covered up from sundown, mosquito nets, wearing repellent are recommended out of the big metropolises.

Other health problems

Far more likely in this crowded country is a throat or chest infection brought about by combination of abundant population, heavy pollution and the difference in temperatures when changing from air-conditioning to sweltering heat. It’s anyway nothing serious.

Some much polluted zones (Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Hong Kong, all the coal industrial North) can raise problems to the allergic tourists, the asthmatics, the persons disposed to respiratory failures, the cardiac people...

The massive frauds are frequent and often very grave when they concern foodstuffs. Keep posted on international sites and prefer the products of the big international brands.

In fact, according to a report from newspaper China Daily, the food safety is the first worry of the Chinese consumers today. 15 % of the consumers in China seem to be poisoned every year. It’s the quest of fast profit which dominates in China today. And the more and more severe repression of these frauds does not appear dissuasive. Nevertheless, since 2010, China promises a strict determination of penalty of death for the guilty parties of the gravest violation to the food safety.

A law was promulgated in 2009 as well and the Council of State set up a “National Committee of Food Safety " but nothing makes for it: according to "New China News Agency", the official press agency of the People's Republic of China, China condemned 255 persons for 173 crimes of food insalubrities during the first 10 months of 2011.

In China as somewhere else, the progress of the STD (Sexually transmitted diseases) and the AIDS is very strong since a few years.

After the AIDS, the tuberculosis is the 2nd murderous infectious disease in China.

The hepatitis C, contagious by the blood, is also present.

Other Helpful Tips

Generally speaking,  China is a safe country to travel around, and most of people you meet are friendly, honest and trustworthy, however, their culture and living conditions are different from that of your home country,  so be alert.

Be aware that local laws and penalties, even those which may seem harsh by your home country standards, do apply to you.  For example, there are strictly enforced laws which prohibit demonstrations unless they have prior approval from the government.  Penalties for drug offences are severe, and include the death penalty, as do certain other serious crimes.

The rainy season occurs between March and April in southern and eastern China (eg Guilin, Suzhou, Hangzhou), from June until August in the west (eg Yunnan Province and Tibet), and between May and September for the areas near the Yangtse River (eg, Chongqing and Yichang). During these times severe rainstorms can cause landslides in Shangrila and remote areas in Tibet which may interrupt essential services. Rural areas near the Yangtse River may be subject to flooding. Typhoons can occur during the wet season along the southern and eastern coasts. You should monitor weather reports if travelling in affected areas. If a natural disaster occurs you should follow the advice of the local authorities.

Be aware of pickpockets

Keep a lookout when standing in a queue to buy tickets

A. Carry no more money than you need to go to buy tickets. In case that your money is stolen by thieves, it would not cause you a lot of losses.
B. when booking tickets, don't show up your money for fear that it would attract the thieves.
C. In most cases, people who want to book tickets should stand in a line. But sometimes, some people jump the queue and the crowd becomes a mess. At this very moment, you should keep watch the people around you. Call the police as soon as you lose your belongs.
D. When standing in a line for booking tickets, don't talk with the ticket traders and do not buy their tickets.
E. Keep your ticket carefully when you get it in case your tickets were stolen by those ticket traders.

Take care when waiting for a bus

A. Try to find a place to have a seat and relax yourself. But generally speaking, the chance is quite slim for there are too many people. If you have to stand, keep your baggage within your view for fear that other people went off with it near at hand. If possible, wait in a teahouse which may cost you 5 to 10 Yuan. But it is comparatively safe. What's more, you can also have a seat and enjoy the TV program for a while.
B. Keep in mind that you never talk to strangers.

Keep a lookout when checking in

A. It will be crowded and chaotic when you are checking in. At this time, hold firmly your ticket and baggage as well as your belongings such as purse and cell phone.
B. Don't be in a hurry if you have a seat ticket when checking in. If you hurry up, you may find yourself a seat even though you have a standing-room-only ticket. But when you force your way into the train, you also have to take care of your personal belongings.

Keep watch on your journey

A. Put your baggage within your sight. Don't get out of the control of your baggage. Otherwise, somebody else may take your baggage before you realize it.
B. Don't talk to strangers. If you really want to relieve the boredom of the long journey, you may have a conversation with them. But you must always remember that never give them your telephone number (including the telephone number of your family and friends to prevent them from defrauding) and other private information.
C. Don't drink beverage and eat whatever given by strangers in case they added fan medicine to the food and drink. It doesn't mean that you should not trust others, but attempt to remind that you must always keep alert.
D. If the journey is not too long, do not sleep on the bus or in the ship to avoid theft; if the journey is very long, and you really want to have a rest or sleep, you'd better tell the traveler sitting next to you. But remember to tell several other travelers at the same time in order to keep from being hurt by him.

Watch out when purchasing in a market

Watch out in front of the display window

Be cautious in front of the showcase, especially in the crowded place, which is the place that thieves like the most. You'd better keep a distance from the crowd. If you really want to buy the commodity in that showcase, you should pay attention to the following advice:

A. If you are alone, and then check your expensive belongings such as purse and cell phone at the checking counter. Or you may put them in your handbag and place the bag to your chest in the front. Then you may force your way in the crowd and buy what you want.

B. If you are with two or more people, check your belongings for safety sake. If you are to thrust your way through the crowd, you'd better do what has been said above—put your belongings in place. And going to buy the commodity together with some others may be more reliable as well as much safer.


Keep a lookout in the clothes fitting room

When you settle on some clothes, you will often have a try in the fitting room. At this time, you have to be careful, because you have caught the thieves' fancy. You must follow the following advice:

A. If you are alone, when you come out of the fitting room to have a look in the mirror, you'd better take your bag and clothes with you so as not to give thieves any chance.

B. If you are with your friends, when you are trying the new clothes, ask your friends to take good care of your belongings. Please always remember that your belongings should not be put out of your sight.

Keep a lookout when roaming the market

When roaming around in the market, you should pay attention to the thieves who may follow you. Why? Because you may be attracted by the goods in the market, the thieves will start his work when you are absorbed. Then, he will steal your belongings by cutting off your bag or pulling open your zip fastener.

On a bus

The thieves are inclined to steal when people get on or off the bus, because it is very crowded at this moment. Thus, we have to pay much attention to the following aspects:

A. When getting on a bus
Don't push like others. It is better to get on the bus a little later, for it is the best chance for the thieves in the crowded place.

B. On the bus
On the bus, thieves will carry out their work under the cover of some props, such as a coat over the arm, a piece of newspaper or a plastic bag, a big bag hanging on a woman's shoulder, scissors, spills and blades.

a. Generally speaking, thieves always get on the crowded buses. When someone push against you or stand close to you, you'd better take care, because you may have been prey of the thieves.

b. When you discover that someone else is stealing your belongings, keep cool and handle it calmly. Otherwise, the thieves may do you harm, as the saying goes, "A cornered dog will leap over a wall."

c. When you find a thief stealing from others, you can shout: "wo de qian bao bu jian le (My purse is gone)." In this way, the thief will stop immediately. You not only help others, but also protect yourself out of danger. You must remember that never stop the thief directly.

d. One point that everyone should keep in mind: when you are on a bus, please have your cell phone in your hand instead of putting in the bag or pocket. On some buses, the drivers as well as the conductors will remind the passengers of keeping cell phones in the hand, which is comparatively safe.

When having meal in the restaurants

When you are having your dinner, put your bag in place. Generally speaking, the attendants in the star hotel will remind you of that. However, you should always keep your bag within your sight.

When walking

When walking, you should pay attention to the following points:

A. Don't have your satchel slung over your shoulder at will. For it is easy for the thieves to rob your bag and hurt you. You should carry it over your shoulder. In that case, it is not easy to be robbed in a short while.

B. Girls carrying backpack should remember: no matter you are walking alone or with your friends, you should put your bag within your own control. It is better to put your bag in front of you to keep from theft.

When Sleeping

Please close your door and windows when you are sleeping.

When you meet an extraordinary situation, do keep calm and act according to circumstances. Once you find some abnormal cases, call the number of 110 for help.

Be alert of robbery

If you are robbed, calm down quickly, especially at the critical moment. Spend more time in trying to know the characteristics of the robbers or possible evidence, such as their height, figure, perplextion, appearance, accent, clothes and belongings. If possible, try to get some material object evidence of the robbers.

The robbery always happens suddenly to people before they realize it. The robbers are well prepared to rob their prey. In such cases, the victims are at a disadvantageous situation. It is sensible not to resist rudely.

When they robbers ask for money or something else, the wise victims should have a well judgment of the robbers quickly. When pretending to get the money, the victims may find a good opportunity to strike back against the robbers. Resistance must be made under full judgment of the robbers.

It is important to be aware of robbery to avoid it from happening to yourself. There are different ways to deal with various situations:

Improve and reinforce the basic countermeasures of your dwelling house. Build more obstacles on the way to entering the house, especially reinforce the doors. If you discover some suspicious person, call the police or send them to the police station.

Keep a distance with the people traveling along with you. Never let strangers know how much money you have. Don't accept the food offered by strangers.

Our local experts are always ready to create you a hassle-free tour. Get an authentic experience by contacting one of our travel advisors.