Do you feel safe in China?

Shuji Koo prepares for his upcoming interview at Carving Time café in Wudaokou, Haidian District of Beijing. Photo: Carol WU/


Shuji Koo,  a Japanese studying Chinese in Beijing, replied to this question based on his experience in China.

Koo  came to China from Tokyo with a batch of 13 trainees of one of the “big four” accounting firms in the world. After graduating with an animal science major in March 2008,   Koo   found himself   to be really interested in accounting and wanted to build a career in it. By November 2010, he had passed all the exams required to be a professional accountant. And later he was sent to China to learn Chinese ,   English and Chinese accounting for future’s job.

Before coming to China, he had thought China might not be as safe as Japan because he had read from local media reports that the wealth gap in China is getting wider and is serious enough to   cause crimes.

Well, the wealthy gap is a reality. The rich Chinese are shopping at home and overseas for gold, Louis Vuitton, Chanel, Gucci, Maserati, yachts, mines and villas, and the poor Chinese such as   kids in China’s earthquake-stricken area in Yunnan Province find instant noodles   to be “yummy” when they for the first time in life taste the food provided from relief supplies.

But as far as I know, big cities like Beijing and Shanghai are comparatively safer than other places in China   for foreigners, though they are more likely to become targets of petty crimes like stealing. I told Koo that Schwab, another foreigner in Beijing I knew, bought his sixth bike not long ago   because   the other five were stolen.

“Fortunately, my bike hasn’t been stolen by someone yet .   Koo   said.

What he finds more disturbing is that people do not obey traffic rules here in China. “I was hit by bicycles three or four times in Beijing when I was about to cross the street,” he said, “Pedestrians, cars and bicycles all want to go first.” In order not to be run over by a car which would not slow down for you, my piece of advice is always   to keep your eyes open and try to walk in the middle of a flock of people to safely cross the busy roads.  

“I   have often encountered dangerous situation on the roads but have become accustomed to it,” he said.

Some say that foreigners often get cheated in China. This summer Koo attended a group tour to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong   in China’s Sichuan Province. He paid 1,000 yuan (US$158) for a four-day, three-night tour package before departure. “They confirmed to me that the amount includes all the charges,” Koo said. “That is why I decided to join.”

“But they kept asking me to pay extra money for various programs throughout the tour. They would say there would be an evening party and you must pay 100 yuan,”   Koo  said. “I said I would not pay any more to you and would not go to this evening party. You know what they said to me? They said ‘don’t you have money? Is it because you don’t have money you don’t want to go to this party?’ I said nothing else to them and paid no more, as I noticed some other Chinese did not pay either which made me feel kind of safe.”

“But if they told me about these costs in the very beginning, I would pay. It’s just the way they do things I really dislike,” He noted.

“But I did see real giant pandas in Sichuan! Do you know how they sleep?” He asked me a simple but unexpected question as he excitedly showed me the answer in his smartphone photo gallery. Next page

In this photo from Koo's phone gallery one Panda rests high up in a tree and the other sleeps while riding on a powerful tree branch. Photo: Courtesy of  Shuji Koo

Koo poses   for a picture  during his trip in Jiuzhaigou, Sichuan Province. Photo: Courtesy of  Shuji Koo

Koo and his Taiwanese friend in the group tour to Jiuzhaigou and Huanglong in China’s Sichuan Province.  Photo: Courtesy of  Shuji Koo

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