“China is not dangerous,” but I have been known to be wrong-ish

Zhuhai. Taxis. Both usually rather safe (well except the driving bit, but that’s a thought for another day)

I’m recalling snippets of a conversation I had recently with a group of Hong Kong expats about China. In retrospect I was rather patronizing. And wrong.

Me: “I’ve never felt unsafe in China.”

This is true.

Me: “I’ve never heard of anyone being harmed, a few burglaries, sure, but no one was hurt.”

Now that I think about it, this is not strictly true. One neighbor was punched in the face when he woke up and confronted a house burglar rifling through his bedside table.

Me: “You’re afraid of being chloroformed and robbed in Shenzhen? Are you crazy? You Hong Kong expats are too much. China is not dangerous.”

I was (at least slightly) wrong.

I meet a friend from China a short time later and tried to laugh with her about silly Hong Kong expats who are afraid of being drugged in China. She did not laugh.

She told me this:

[Our friend]’s husband left a bar in Zhuhai one night by taxi a short time ago. A few hours later he woke up in a park with no money, keys or phone. He has absolutely no memory of what happened between getting in the taxi and waking up in the park.

Late night revelers: take extra care. Everyone else: be smart, but not overly paranoid. I still hold that China is largely very safe. And it is true that I have never personally felt unsafe in China. But I was wrong to laugh at the drugging-robbing rumor. And I was wrong to be a patronizing jerk.

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10 responses to ““China is not dangerous,” but I have been known to be wrong-ish

  1. While living in the Middle East I read something about corporate risk management. Basically it was that it ought to be managed by someone living outside the region because the local expats “can’t see the forest for the trees.” They become used to the situation and start saying things like “oh, don’t worry, they don’t start shooting until after 3pm.” I think there’s a certain truth in that.

  2. I normally feel very safe in Taiwan everywhere I’ve been. BUT that being said, that doesn’t mean shit doesn’t happen to people on a regular basis. We might not hear about it, and sometimes it might not even get reported, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. I agree with the writer above that the best thing to do is just be wary, smart and responsible anywhere you go. There is no ideal society or safe place anywhere on earth and you never know what crazy idea might pop into someone’s head.

  3. One of my female managers was walking by the POLICE HQ of the city we’re in at about 9pm on a weekday evening. She was jumped by some guy, who wanted to steal her purse. After yelling for several minutes, nobody came so she fought tooth and nail to get the purse back, and the robber took off. Imagine had her stuff been stolen – she’d have to go into the Police HQ and file a report. (Duh?)

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