The Chinese government took everyone by surprise recently after they released a travel warning to its citizens, asking them not to travel to America.
Alleged gun violence
The travel warning specifically points to the trend of American public shootings as a cause for concern. “Public security in the United States is not good. Cases of shootings, robberies, and theft are frequent… Travelers in the United States should be alert to their surroundings and suspicious individuals, and avoid going out alone at night”, Reuters quotes the notice. The government has advised its citizens to call 911 and request a Chinese language service in case of emergencies.
It is not the first time that the Chinese government has issued such a travel warning. In 2016, when a Chinese student was shot in Arizona, China had cautioned citizens from traveling into “tough neighborhoods.”
And though the Chinese government claims that the travel warning is in response to American gun violence, the truth is that they have issued the notice only because of their ongoing trade war with the U.S.
The trade war agenda
The United States had imposed high tariffs on Chinese imports in a bid to make China fall in line with the demands of fair trade from the international community. In return, the Chinese had also imposed tariffs on its American imports.
In addition, the latest travel warning to Chinese citizens is seen by many experts as a ploy to hit the U.S. tourism industry. It is estimated that almost 3 million Chinese tourists visited the U.S. in 2016 compared to about 525,000 tourists in 2009. This figure is expected to jump to about 4.5 million visitors by 2022.
China is ranked fifth in terms of foreign visitors to the U.S. And by limiting the number of citizens who visit the United States, Beijing will essentially be reducing America’s tourism industry revenues. This closely goes hand in hand with China’s objective to hit U.S. revenues.
The Chinese government frequently uses such “travel advice” propaganda when it seeks to settle scores with any country that does something that the Communist Party sees as a threat to its society. It was in 2017 that China completely banned all group tours to South Korea after the latter opted to set up the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD), a powerful radar technology that is capable of penetrating into Chinese lands.
The current travel warning from China is therefore just a counter to American trade tariffs. But with the U.S. going all out to ensure that the Chinese reform their business policies and trade fairly with the West, China will have to make a tough choice on whether to continue with its propaganda or to accede to Western demands and start honoring international trade agreements. And considering that the Chinese are hugely dependent on their exports, the latter is most likely to happen.