The uptick in anti-Asian hate crimes in the U.S. is deterring potential visitors from China.
This month, a new survey from Morning Consult, a decision intelligence company, found that a “plurality of Chinese have little to no interest in US travel,” citing anti-Asian discrimination and violence as key factors.
Morning Consult’s study surveyed 1,000 adults in China. According to their data, 22% of mainland Chinese respondents said they were “not interested at all,” and 23% said they were “not that interested” in visiting the U.S.
Those surveyed were asked why they did not want to visit the U.S: 57% cited violent crime, 52% said terrorism, 36% cited petty crime and 44% expressed worry about anti-China biases. Additionally, mass shootings were cited as a reason not to travel to the U.S., with many respondents now opting to travel to Europe instead.
Chinese citizens’ concerns are not completely unfounded. A February report by the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino, showed that hate crimes targeting the Asian American community increased by 342% across eight major cities in 2021 compared to figures from the previous year.
However, Scott Moskowitz, a geopolitical risk analyst at Morning Consult, identified that state controlled media in China often played up instances of anti-Asian violence to discourage its citizens from going to the U.S.
Moskowitz called China’s coverage of the U.S. as “a strategically curated ecosystem that over-reports and sensationalizes negative foreign news compared to the tight controls on coverage of challenging or disturbing domestic instance.”
Additionally, geopolitical tensions between the U.S. and China are another reason as to why China emphasizes crimes in the U.S. compared to other countries like Europe.
“This differential is especially exaggerated in terms of (Chinese state media) reporting on the US as compared to Europe and other places. Some of this is strategic and intentional, curated in order to diminish the appeal and soft power of the country China sees as its great rival, both politically and ideologically,” Moskowitz said.
“There are strong perceptions in China that there is a lot of global bias against their country. Personal and national identity are very strongly tied in China so there may be concerns that more macro and political grievances and resentments (both real and perceived) with a country will be turned back towards the individual when traveling abroad,” he added.
Lindsey Roeschke, a travel and hospitality analyst at Morning Consult who co-authored the survey with Moskowitz, suggested that travel companies and tourism programs need to push safety related messaging to Chinese consumers.
“Travel brands should provide pre-departure information on safety tools and tips. Those who want to take additional action may consider providing access to safety-oriented tour guides or a designated personal safety representative during travelers’ stays,” Roeschke said.