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Anti-Asian hate crimes scare Chinese travelers away from US

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Anti-Asian hate crimes scare Chinese travelers away from US
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Editor’s note – A version of this story appears in CNN’s news bulletin Meanwhile in China, a tri-weekly update exploring what you need to know about the country’s rise and its impact on the world. Register here.

Hong Kong (CNN) — Cannon Yu lives in Shantou, Guangdong Province.

In the past, her sales work at a packaged food company took her to business conferences all over the world. But she hasn’t left China since early 2020 and takes her business calls online rather than in person in Thailand, Germany, Morocco and elsewhere.

While most countries have reopened their borders and resumed travel to return to pre-Covid levels, China has remained extremely conservative in its approach and continues to adhere to a strict and uncompromising “zero-Covid” policy.

While these policies keep Chinese people indoors, they also keep most foreigners out, making it less likely that people like Yu will interact with people from other countries.

And although China still hasn’t announced a plan to remove quarantine and other barriers to international travel, Yu is looking forward to getting back on the road and traveling again.

There is one exception, however – she has great reservations about visiting the United States.

How the East looks at the West

Scott Moskowitz, geopolitical risk analyst for APAC at business intelligence firm Morning Consult, says state-controlled media in China has aired examples of anti-Asian violence in the United States in order to make its citizens less interested in going there.

It’s “a strategically curated ecosystem that over-reports and sensationalizes negative foreign news versus tight controls on coverage of difficult or disturbing domestic instances,” he says.

And Yu’s beliefs confirm this.

“They look at people with discernment (over there),” she says. “Not just for Chinese people, but for black people. It’s very difficult to get fair treatment for everyone in the United States.”

She adds that she has spoken to friends who have visited the United States, saying they were detained and searched by customs officers before being allowed to leave the airport.

Yu is part of an increasingly vocal community of Chinese travelers who say anti-Asian discrimination in the United States has scared them from ever visiting.
This month, Morning Consult published a study on this exact trend. Their findings, based on a survey of 1,000 adults, showed that “a plurality of Chinese have little or no interest in travel to the United States”, with anti-Asian violence and discrimination being both cited as factors.

According to data from Morning Consult, 22% of mainland Chinese respondents are “not at all interested” in visiting the United States, and an additional 23% say they are “not that interested”.

Among survey respondents, 57% say violent crime is the main reason they don’t want to go to the United States, while 52% cite terrorism, 36% say petty crime and 44% say they concerned about anti-Chinese prejudice. Locals.

Mass shootings are another specific concern, with “those who saw, read or heard of the school shooting in Uvalde, Texas” earlier this year “significantly more likely to cite violent crime as a reason for not not travel” in the country, Morning Consult said in its report.

Instead, some Chinese travelers are now looking elsewhere, with destinations in Europe clearly preferred over the United States, according to the survey.

In the wake of anti-Asian hate crimes, “United Shades of America” ​​discusses the need for Asian Americans to have a greater voice in bridging divides. The series airs Sundays at 10 p.m. ET.

The rise of violence

Amid the pandemic, there has been an increase in anti-Asian harassment around the world, largely the result of misinformation or misplaced attacks on the origins of Covid-19.
The nonpartisan Stop AAPI Hate Coalition provides a place for people to report harassment and attacks.
Perhaps the most publicized anti-Asian hate attack in the United States since the start of the pandemic was the “Atlanta spa murders”, in which eight women in three different massage parlors were shot. by Robert Aaron Long, a white man. Six of the eight victims were Asian, and Long was charged with hate crimes in addition to the murders.
Last year, New York Congresswoman Grace Meng introduced the Covid-19 hate crimes bill, which was signed into law by President Joe Biden.

Meng, who is of Taiwanese descent, represents parts of Queens, the diverse borough of New York City that is home to many Asian Americans.

These incidents – which range from street harassment to physical violence – receive significant coverage outside the United States, including in China.

Current geopolitical tensions are not helping. Moskowitz says the perception that the United States is China’s biggest rival has only heightened attention to stories of anti-Asian discrimination or violence in the country, even as similar incidents occur. also elsewhere.

“This difference is particularly exaggerated in terms of (Chinese state media’s) reporting on the United States versus Europe and other places. Some of this is strategic and intentional, organized in order to diminish the attractiveness and soft power of the country that China sees as its great rival, both politically and ideologically,” he told CNN Travel.

“There are strong perceptions in China that there is a lot of global prejudice against their country,” Moskowitz adds. “Personal and national identity are very strongly intertwined in China, so there may be concerns that more macro and political (real and perceived) grievances and resentments with a country will be reflected back to the individual during ‘a journey abroad.’

How to change perceptions

While changing the way Chinese travelers view the United States won’t happen overnight, it’s not impossible.

“The results of this survey specifically suggest that travel agencies and destinations should double down on their safety-related messaging in marketing campaigns targeting Chinese consumers,” said Lindsey Roeschke, travel and hospitality analyst at Morning Consult, co-author of the survey with Moskowitz.

She adds, “Travel brands should provide pre-departure information on safety tools and tips. Those who want to take extra steps can consider providing access to safety-focused tour guides or a safety representative. designated personnel during travellers’ stays.”

Some countries have issued specific warnings to their citizens regarding travel to the United States, particularly regarding gun violence.

In 2019, the group Amnesty International issued an alert to people urging them to “use caution and have an emergency plan when traveling through the United States” due to gun violence.

As for Cannon Yu, she still looks forward to traveling anywhere outside of China once it becomes less difficult.

Despite everything, she is still curious about the United States and hopes to see it for herself eventually.

In particular, there is one place on his to-do list: Las Vegas. “I want to play,” she said. And then, after a pause, she continues: “I want to make friends.

Top image: Asian American community leaders lay flowers at a memorial for murder victim Christina Yuna Lee after an anti-Asian hate rally in New York City. Photo by Barry Williams/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images.

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