As an avid traveler, I can offer my own perspective based on my own personal experiences. Over the past forty years, I have traveled the world and visited nearly 90 countries. I have also been to China three times since the early 90’s until now.
China is usually a very safe country for tourists. The reason for this is not because of security cameras and harsh sentences, as some respondents claim. I think it is due to their culture. Although crime exists in every country, statistically speaking, it is very difficult to be attacked, robbed, or simply feel unsafe as a tourist in urban or rural China. Chinese society is built on different principles and values than those of the West.
By the way, I could say the same thing about other countries that represent a very different culture, with Muslim countries being one example. In general, I feel safe in Muslim countries, where I can walk the streets day and night without feeling unsafe. Another example comes from different parts of the world and different cultures. I live in Sweden, and even though it has changed in recent years due to the influx of foreign cultures, Sweden and the rest of Scandinavia are the safest places on earth for locals and tourists alike.
You can eat dinner late, then have one last drink after midnight, and take a walk home without worrying about your safety. In all three places—China, Muslim countries, and Scandinavia—safety is part of the local culture, which disapproves and condemns violent crime. I realize that to some, this may sound like a risky statement, especially in reference to Muslim countries, but please try not to be misled by what you see on television and other media that rarely speaks to the nature of the people, but rather focuses on war and war-related violence.
I somewhat agree with the first two answers. I lived in China for 15 years, and I can tell you that while there is crime here, you do feel safe anywhere at any time of the day. As for why this is the case, I don’t think the answer is as black and white as the first answer makes it out to be. I think it’s a combination of factors, including the “police state”. First, many Chinese are naturally shy or timid, and they don’t have the kind of personality you’d expect from a common criminal.
Second, there are a lot of really good people here, which is part of their culture, as mentioned earlier.
Third, the government plays a role. Guns, knives over a certain length and type, and various other weapons are illegal, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. I’ve seen a handful of 45s on the black market, but that doesn’t mean you can just buy them on the street, and it’s hard to commit a lot of crimes when you lack the tools. The fourth is the legal system. In China, it’s no joke; people know that. In the United States, people are put on death row and they may die of natural causes before they are executed (translation: presumably that means the process of investigating the verdict will be particularly long).
And in China, I’ve seen cases where arrests, convictions, and sentences were completed in the span of two months. Believe me, even if you didn’t commit such a serious crime, the living conditions in a Chinese prison would make an American prison look like a five-star hotel. Oh, and by the way, I lived in Lanzhou for 5 years and the rest of my life in Chengdu, and I’m just saying it’s not just “Shanghai” where the security is good.