Chinese Law: What to Be Aware About If You’re Visiting China

Before you visit China, you should brush up on Chinese law to make sure you don’t break any of them. Here is what you should be aware of.

About 141 million tourists make their way to China annually, making it the fourth most visited country in the world. This makes sense since it’s home to so many wonders of the world, both natural and man-made. From the Great Wall to the Terra Cotta Warriors to the beautiful countryside rivers and pagodas, there’s so much in this beautiful nation that isn’t to be missed.

Chinese law, however, is as harsh as China is beautiful, which means that you’ll need to read up a bit before taking your trip. While there’s nothing to worry about if you know what not to do, it’s worth thinking about the ways that you’re going to abide by these laws before your visit.

Read on to learn about some of the most important Chinese laws that you need to know.

  1. Always Have Appropriate Identification

Laws in China are inconsistently enforced, which means that you need to prepare for anything. You could stay in China for years without ever being asked for ID by a government official. However, it’s just as likely that you’ll be pulled aside on day one of your trip and asked to show your passport.

For this reason, you’ll want to carry a copy of your passport and visa at all times. While it makes sense to leave the original in a hotel safe- you don’t want it to fall into the river while on a boat tour- you absolutely must make multiple copies of it and carry it with you.

Keep this identification close to your body as there is a lot of theft in Chinese cities. In fact, we recommend that all your important belongings be put in a fanny pack or a crossbody bag rather than a purse, pocket, or backpack. This will prevent people from snatching your things without you knowing.

  1. Don’t Overstay Your Visa

While you shouldn’t overstay your visa in any country, this is especially a bad idea in China. If the government finds out that you’ve outstayed your welcome, you could find yourself slapped with harsh penalties.

You need to register with Chinese police within 24 hours of checking into the country. Hotel staff will generally do this for you, and the process includes sending your visa dates to these officers.

If your overstay is short, you’ll likely simply be slapped with a hefty fine and be sent home in shame. However, those who overstay for over a month, you’re going to be detained for five to fifteen days and be banned from China for the next 10 years. Chinese jails are notoriously bad places, so it’s best to be vigilant and avoid these penalties.

  1. Don’t Enter Areas Restricted by Chinese Law

In China, particularly in big cities, there are many areas that have restricted access to the public. These areas are generally government property that contains national documents and legal processes. Furthermore, because China is a largely communist country, it can be pretty secretive and wants to keep certain areas and buildings from foreigners.

If you enter these areas, you’re very likely to face detention by the Chinese police.

  1. Don’t Try to Help Fugitives

China has a complex relationship with fugitives, both from its own country and from others. Micheal Ching is being pursued by the Chinese police on political corruption charges because he is a fugitive of the nation, and China doesn’t take kindly to fugitives from other nations on its soil, either.

This specifically applies to North Koreans who are passing through China on their path to freedom in South Korea. In the unlikely scenario that a fugitive approaches you, it’s definitely unethical to turn them in- they’ll be killed.

However, you should kindly but firmly refuse to take part in the situation since, as a foreigner, you’ll be subject to imprisonment in China for many years that probably will also include hard labor. Wish them luck and then pretend it never happened.

  1. Don’t Badmouth the Government

China is notorious for having a harsh hand in dealing with dissent, giving citizens and visitors alike long prison sentences for saying and doing things that go against the government. During your time in China, make sure that you keep any negative opinions to yourself about the government, communist regime, or culture.

China is a nation that’s filled with beauty. There are a lot of positive things about a visit to this country, including the gorgeous architecture, the friendly locals, and the delicious food. Try to focus on the positives, both in your own mind and, more importantly, when talking to others.

  1. Don’t Talk About Historical Events

This kind of goes along with not badmouthing the government, but don’t talk to locals about negative events in their nation’s history. This includes asking your tour guide questions about the Tiananmen Square massacre and other political events around the country.

Many locals don’t even believe that these events really happened, and if they do, they likely have been told that dissenters got their just deserts. Don’t judge them harshly for this- this is all they know. Respect their views and don’t talk about these events.

Also, when it comes to Mao Zedong, he still has a lot of support from people around China. He’s viewed as a national hero, someone who greatly helped the communist party. Do NOT say anything negative about him to anyone. He may be dead, but he’s very much a living, almost Godlike presence to many Chinese people.

  1. Do NOT Use Drugs

No matter how much you like cannabis, the Chinese government views it as a threat to the nation. China has notoriously harsh drug laws and smoking so much as one blunt can land you with a life imprisonment sentence.

Attempting to bring cannabis into the country is an even worse offense. It’s best that you just completely avoid any and all drugs during your time in China and enjoy the delicious rice wine instead.

Have a Safe Trip

China is an amazing place to visit and is full of natural and man-made wonders. However, it has much stricter laws than many other countries, so you need to know and abide by them.

Now that you know the most important aspects of Chinese law that will keep you safe on your trip, it’s time to get some more legal tips and advice. Check out the ‘law’ tab on our home page to learn more about Visas and travel law. Only then will you can be equipped with the knowledge to overcome any situation you may find yourself in.

Have a fun and safe getaway!

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