I’m recalling snippets of a conversation I had recently with a group of Hong Kong expats about China. In retrospect I was rather patronizing. And wrong.
Me: “I’ve never felt unsafe in China.”
This is true.
Me: “I’ve never heard of anyone being harmed, a few burglaries, sure, but no one was hurt.”
Now that I think about it, this is not strictly true. One neighbor was punched in the face when he woke up and confronted a house burglar rifling through his bedside table.
Me: “You’re afraid of being chloroformed and robbed in Shenzhen? Are you crazy? You Hong Kong expats are too much. China is not dangerous.”
I was (at least slightly) wrong.
I meet a friend from China a short time later and tried to laugh with her about silly Hong Kong expats who are afraid of being drugged in China. She did not laugh.
She told me this:
[Our friend]’s husband left a bar in Zhuhai one night by taxi a short time ago. A few hours later he woke up in a park with no money, keys or phone. He has absolutely no memory of what happened between getting in the taxi and waking up in the park.
Late night revelers: take extra care. Everyone else: be smart, but not overly paranoid. I still hold that China is largely very safe. And it is true that I have never personally felt unsafe in China. But I was wrong to laugh at the drugging-robbing rumor. And I was wrong to be a patronizing jerk.