Safety and security in China
In general, China can be considered a safe country, one of the instruments that contributed to this being the strong penalties that the government uses for different offences. Among these, drug-related offenses are often punishable with the death penalty. At the same time, any actions perceived as a threat to the government would be severely target, so keep away from gossiping about the government’s actions or politics in general.
In terms of crimes, there are always things to watch out for, like in any other country. In the very large cities, petty crime is most common and this means mostly pickpockets and small thefts that occur especially in crowded areas. Chinese would prefer to target foreigners, who stand out easily in the crowd, since many of them are tourists and, as such, an easier target. With this in mind, it is always better not to carry large sums of money and valuables around on your day trips, including your passport, if you don’t absolutely need it for identification.
Another thing to watch out for are the scam artists also targeting tourists. The pitch is usually quite simple: he or someone close to him (brother, cousin, friend) or someone he knows can do a service for you (sell you something, exchange some money) at a rate significantly lower than what you would have access to on the market. Once you are hooked, the scam can develop differently, but it usually turns out that the thing you buy is fake and of a lower value that what you paid. In general, if someone offers something too good to be true, it is. In the case of money exchange on the black market, this is not only an opportunity for you to get ripped off, it is also illegal (which brings us back to the first paragraph on how harsh penalties are in China).
Another scam to watch out for is people who approach you in a friendly manner and ask you to a coffee shop to practice their English. The general rule: never go anywhere with a stranger (and this will be helpful in any country, not only China). A second general rule: things you wouldn’t do in another country, like going at night in dangerous neighborhoods, shouldn’t be done in China either.