Even though international travel is currently at an impasse due to the COVID-19 outbreak, many countries are looking forward to allowing it as soon as possible. This includes China, where the government has restricted travel for the longest time. However, is it safe to travel to China when the government does allow it? Read on to find out.
Traveling to China
The number one risk in China at present is the CCP coronavirus outbreak. While the government says the situation is under control, the communist regime can’t actually be trusted on the matter. Several independent reports coming from the country point out that COVID-19 is still pretty much active. Even though some regions have relaxed lockdown restrictions, people continue to practice strict social distancing. As such, until and unless a reputed international body confirms that the COVID-19 situation in China has been remedied, one cannot be sure of being safe from the virus in the country.
The U.S. government has given China a “Level 4: Do Not Travel” classification. The travel department warns that American citizens who travel to the country may be subject to mandatory testing and quarantining. Americans who are already in China have been warned to follow local health restrictions and requirements as closely as possible. If the health situation in China deteriorates further, the U.S. consulates and Embassy will only be able to help American citizens in the country in a limited manner.
The Trump administration has also asked American nationals to watch out for arbitrary enforcement of laws, especially the use of “exit bans.” “The PRC government has asserted broad authority to prohibit U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries from leaving the PRC by using ‘exit bans,’ sometimes keeping them in the PRC for years. The PRC government uses exit bans… In most cases, U.S. citizens only become aware of their exit ban when they attempt to depart the PRC, and there is no reliable mechanism or legal process to find out how long the ban might continue or to contest it,” according to the advisory. If you decide to travel to the PRC, the U.S. travel department advises you to immediately contact the U.S. Embassy or consulate in case you are arrested.
African-Americans traveling to China might be subject to racist treatment. Local authorities have acted harshly with African migrants in China, creating the impression that black people have a high probability of being infected with COVID-19. There have been several reports of shopping malls and restaurants refusing to service African ethnic people. Some have refused to rent homes to Africans. In such a situation, African-Americans might face a tougher time in China than usual.
When it comes to things like crime and mugging, China isn’t particularly bad. However, tourists face a high risk of being targeted by pickpockets. Such criminals operate in packs where one person might distract you with some talk while the other one will steal your valuables. These pickpockets might target you even in restaurants. So keep a watch on your purse while eating at such a place. Visitors also face a huge risk of being scammed. As such, you should always be alert if a stranger offers you something that seems too good to be true. As far as women are concerned, the country is pretty safe, even for solo female travelers. Just follow common safety protocols like not walking alone in nights, riding alone in taxis, etc., and you should do fine.
Since China censors foreign websites, you should get a VPN before entering the country. Do note that Beijing has been strongly cracking down on VPN services in recent months. As such, there is no guarantee that the VPN service you enroll in will be available in China. However, getting one is still preferable as there is at least a chance that you might be able to use it in case the online censors have overlooked your VPN service.
To be on the safe side financially, make sure that you get travel insurance before hopping on a plane to China. If something unfortunate were to occur and you end up having to spend a lot of money, the insurance might cover such expenses and keep your financial condition secure. Consider enrolling in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP). This will ensure that you receive timely alerts from the U.S. government about any emergencies.