Foreign visitors are crucial to restoring friendships & preventing "decoupling" amid mounting unfavorable views from the West
I’d visit China if it was easy but it’s not.
1. I can’t pay for anything because no one takes cash and I don’t have a Chinese bank account so I can’t use mobile payments. (The last time I visited my Chinese friends paid for my entire trip because I couldn’t pay for anything.)
2. I’m cut off from the outside world because I don’t have access to any non Chinese internet in China and can’t use a simple service like Google maps to find directions. I want to explore the country on my own, not through a travel agency. And there is no English support so I can’t use Chinese apps or rely on signs in Cities. (I can luckily make it because I speak Chinese but no one else can.)
Also because I can’t access the internet I can’t post anything about my trip or tell my friends back home.
3. All I hear from Chinese government officials and Chinese media is that the west is against China. This isn’t the case. But then in the western media I hear about everyone from my country or other countries like mine who has been arrested.
Both sides are saying the same thing so why bother taking the risk?
As a tour operator for business study tours I can only fully agree with Xiao Qianhui's speech. (With the exception of fully blaming worsened China sentiment on the US, I mean ... come on!).
Our business has been non-existant for 3 years and we hear how our Chinese partner agencies are struggling to get foreign tourists in. There is a lot that needs to be done to solve this and Xiao Qianhui mentions many of them.
Besides worries about possible wars over Taiwan among my potential clients, I myself experience that many people are still reluctant because of covid origins and zero-covid policies and potential lockdowns. These might be highly unlikely to the well-informed, but not to the travellers. And there is a general distrust in the information provided by the government (failing to report cremation data ... looks like somebody has something to hide, how can we trust what they say?).
Also mentioned by Xiao Qianhui is the visa process. I have lived in China and been back to China on many different types of visa but every time the application process has been the worst I have experienced when travelling to any country. Listing all my previous employers? Listing the work my parents do? Sharing the addresses where my kids live? You gotta be kidding.
But you also know that if you don't follow the instructions you might end up in situations like in that Seinfeild episode with the Soup Nazi. That's what going to the visa application center feels like. One wrong step and 'No visa for you!'.
Maybe start by making foreigners feel welcome again (put back those multi-language metro signs in Beijing!) and making the process of going to China pleasant. Allow more flights (which are still much more expensive than they used to be). Provide easy ways of mobile payment that actually work without a Chinese bank account, provide free VPNs, etc.
When you get the feeling a host doesn't really want you to come over, you won't visit.
Really thank you for sharing these speeches and translations with us, they are inaccessible otherwise! Really encouraging to hear Chinese businesses speaking up about the impact of so few foreigners in the country. As a historian and from a cultural perspective the dangers are obvious, but I hope the business pressure can lead to lasting changes in the inbound tourism industry and, quite frankly, the way foreigners are treated. At this point, I don't recommend anyone visit China without speaking Chinese or having previous travel experience there. Even something as simple as booking a train ticket has become an exhausting ordeal that requires plenty of translation, Pleco, and a Chinese friend on speed-dial to ask for clarification.
Great speech, and so important for geopolitics. Right now the only contact with China that many foreigners have is going to a a Xiaomi store in their country.
The lack of support on the China side is well explained. And unfortunately, I don't see the upside for Western politicians either to have their people travel to China. This way they can paint the picture they want.
As I once read "Americans have no idea how well Chinese people know their contemporary culture, and Chinese have no idea how little Americans know about Chinese contemporary culture".
China is not an easy place to travel, but neither is Bolivia if you want internet access or Japan if you want everything in English. Internet works ok for me in China without VPN, I can check Twitter and send whatsapps. For language, Google translate works fine too (and if you worry about internet access just download the dictionary ahead), and for payments Alipay now links to visa and master (not sure all countries). So yeah, it is not as convenient as like going to Amsterdam, but you are going to a civilized place not the jungle.
Education and respect is important too. People that go to Thailand know you don't bring drugs and you don't say things about the king. Tourists don't seem to have an issue with that, because they go there for the beach and food and people, and not to teach locals about politics and convert them to catholicism.
I will add an eight reason for why there are not many more tourists coming to China. It is the way internet spread by leaps and bounds in the last 10 years. The spread of the internet meant the disappearance of many local neighborhood travel agents who would help you organise your travel anywhere. I have been to China maybe ten times in the past and twice I stayed for 6 months on sabbaticals. I still cannot organise a trip to China without help from my Chinese friends. This is because I have become used to doing everything on the internet . There are hardly neighborhood travel agents anymore. Me and everyone else are used to organise their travel and buy their tickets on the internet. But not for China because Chinese internet is impossible to navigate for foreigners.
What a brilliant speech. Brave too - calls it like it is.
Xi's directives and need for control, stability, security are not well thought out. His policies have had many many bad secondary and tertiary consquences ....covid policy, housing policy, wold warrior policy, "capital markets with chinese characteristics"...... foreigners are leaving in droves and no one is coming anymore.
United states attracts visitors and top notch talent and entrepreurs from all over the world - it continues to be a technology and innovation powerhouse.
Xi would like China to be a technology and innovation powerhouse but can it attract the foreign talent pool to its shores - most wealthy Chinese I know have one foot outside China (just in case).
Unfortunately any change/tweak in travel policy will run up against Xi's directives on security - there is lay the long term conundrum. For travel to do well. Xi needs a more modern smart leader in the form of Deng Xao Ping who understand secondary and terrtiary effects.
At the moment tourism for many lower mobile middle class people within the West is inaccessible, everything has gone up too dramatically due to Western bad economics and mismanagement since covid. Many small businesses have shut their doors, and will continue to, due to debt dues and increasing prices.
I know many wish to travel, but few and far between are able to.
The hope is to focus on global south, I guess, until the wind changes within the West..... as a recovery seems really far.... far beyond the 5-7 year cycle, due to IMF loans to cover covid issues, hence ensuing higher debt, bigger losses for the productive forces, while the rentier class profits on debt calls, inflation and looting of real economy.
It is heartbreaking what evil Emperor Xi has done to the aspirations of so many, with his Hong Kong crackdowns, toasting Putin the week he was indicted, his belligerent war mumblings and threats to Taiwan.
None of this decoupling would be happening if Xi were not gearing for war.
The West had such hopes for China to become more free.
Instead we’re all stuck with a war monger, self-aggrandizing dark Emperor, who even supports Putin in his crimes.