Why You Can Be Super-Safe in China
by Eric Sommer
Beijing is a city of twenty million people. But walking alone in Beijing – even at 3 am – I feel perfectly safe in any area of the city. In my 15 years of life in China I have never encountered or seen any street crime or acts of violence in any of the five Chinese cities I have lived in.
The absence of street crime or threats on the street is, for me, a unique experience. I have not had this experience in any Canadian or U.S. city. There are good reasons for the difference. To begin with, the Chinese government – and Chinese society as a whole – puts great emphasis on security measures to maintain a peaceful and secure living environment.
Steps to Keep You Safe
To begin with, there are strict controls on weapons; ordinary people simply cannot own guns.
What’s more, government video cameras abound on almost every street; and private ones are found in every office, store, or apartment building. Anyone thinking of committing a crime needs to think twice, because when they look up, they see a camera!
In addition, private security guards are present almost everywhere, far more so than in most western world environments. Security guards are visibly stationed at or near the front door or gate of a high proportion of stores, office buildings, and even modest apartments. have security guards stationed at or near a gate or front door.
The security guards ubiquitous and visible presence acts in itself as a check on anyone who might consider criminal activity.
My impression that Chinese crime is substantially lower than in some western countries is borne out by statistics. In China, for example, there are only 90.7 burglaries per 100,000 people, but in the U.S. there are 714.4 burglaries per 100,000 people. In other words, the U.S. has eight times the number of burglaries per 100,000 people.
Similarly, the U.S. has four times the number of murders per million people, three times the percentage of opiate addiction, and so forth
Problems to Avoid
You aren’t likely to encounter crime on the street when going about your daily business in Chinese cities. But you will want to keep a close eye on your valuables. Just as in western world cities, there are pickpockets and sneak-thieves in China. In my 15 years here I have had two mobile phones and one backpack stolen, and my Chinese friends report similar occurrences.
Finally,. to ensure your safety in China, you may want to be careful when visiting the bars and famous nightclubs in the well-known ‘bar streets’, such as Sanlitun area in Beijing. Foreign and Chinese workers both often go to these places to hang-out, carouse with their friends, dance, or look for possible lovers. You can have a good time there. But as with such areas in any country, occasional fights, prostitution, drug dealing, and other unsavory phenomena can also be found there. So take care!
– Eric Sommer is a former university instructor in China, international journalist, and web developer.