Chinese tourists in United States told to beware of shootings, expensive medical care

Embassy also reminds holidaymakers that border inspection officials have the right to search them

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 01 July, 2018, 5:32pm
UPDATED : Monday, 02 July, 2018, 5:22pm

Chinese tourists planning a trip to America have been warned of “frequent shootings” and the high cost of medical care in a notice by China’s embassy in the US.

“Social security in the States is not satisfactory. Shootings, robbery, theft happen frequently,” the statement said.

“Be aware of suspicious people around you and avoid going out alone at night.”

The notice also reminded would-be tourists that the local “911” emergency service lines provide a Chinese-language service.

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More than 3 million Chinese visited the US last year, and the total is expected to grow to 4.5 million by 2022, according to figures from the US Department of Commerce.

China is currently fifth on the United States’ foreign visitor charts, after Canada, Mexico, Britain and Japan.

The embassy notice also advised tourists to avoid confrontation with law enforcement officials at border control points.

“A US visa does not guarantee you have the right to enter the country,” it said. “Law enforcers at the customs [desks] have the ultimate power to decide.”

It went on to say that “arguing with law enforcers won’t help” people trying to enter the country, and “will only make things worse”.

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Tourists were also reminded that non-US citizens do not have the right to legal representation in disputes at border inspections unless they are the subject of a criminal investigation or placed in custody.

Law enforcement officials also do not need a warrant to search foreign nationals seeking to enter the United States. This means they can search people’s luggage, electronic devices and even vehicles at border checkpoints.

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The notice from the embassy came as a reminder to Chinese tourists amid growing concerns of increased checks on visitors, including customs officials poring over people’s phones.

A US customs agency spokesman said last year that border officials inspected 4,444 cellphones and 320 other electronic devices in 2015, which amounts to about one check for every 830 of the 383 million people who visited the US that year. In 2016, officials checked 23,000 electronic devices.

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The Chinese embassy statement also reminded tourists that medical treatment can be expensive in the US, and that anyone planning a trip should ensure they have a suitable health insurance policy.

The notice said also that under no circumstances would an embassy official ask for information about a visitor’s bank accounts, or ask them over the phone to transfer money to another account.

The reminder comes amid a wave of telecom frauds targeting Chinese citizens around the world, the embassy said.