From time to time, ChinaGeeks gets requests from readers or whoever that we link a blog post of theirs. Generally, we do check out these links, although we don’t often end up linking them. Today, we will be linking one, although I fear it’s not the kind of endorsement the woman who emailed us was hoping for.
The post in question is called Travel China Like a Pro: 7 Tips from Expert Travelers. Most of the tips are pretty run of the mill, but two of them immediately jumped out at us as misleading. The first:
3. Beware of What You Blog […] Beware of subversive blogging from Shanghai: censure is common practice!”
Where to begin? First of all, censure is not common. Censure means a formal, often written, expression of disapproval. What the author probably meant was censorship, which, of course, is also misleading. Censorship of travel blogs by foreigners is common? Hardly. In fact, as this and many other English China blogs prove, the Chinese government doesn’t particularly care what we write, as long as it’s not in Chinese.
What’s worse is that there is a useful piece of advice for China travelers that they totally missed: free blogging platforms like blogspot or wordpress are frequently blocked wholesale, so travelers shouldn’t count on being able to keep in touch with those at home through these platforms while in China.
Another tip in the top seven, apparently:
4. Be Respectful if Arrested […] Speak in honorable and deeply respectful prose, especially if you get arrested…
Good advice, I suppose, but (1) how often are foreign tourists arrested and (2) if arrested, how likely is it that any foreign tourists are going to have any idea how to “speak in honorable and deeply respectful prose” in Chinese? More useful tips for tourists would be things like “always carry your passport” and “keep the number of the local US embassy on hand at all times.”
Taken together, these two pieces of advice offer a pretty misleading picture of China to the potential tourist, I think. Travel to China and risk being censored (or censured!) or arrested! Of course those things are possible, but are they likely? Are they likely to happen to travelers? Are they really worthy of inclusion in the top seven travel in China tips?
No, they aren’t. What’s more terrifying is that these tips come from “experts”.
But our intention here is not simply to tear apart a poorly-written blog post. Oh no! We have set our sights higher! For what kind of hypocrites would we be if we could not offer our own, better set of tips for traveling in China? (Answer: the worst kind of hypocrites). So, we put it to you, dear readers, what are your top tips for safe and successful travel in China? If your answers are good enough, we may compile them together to create a guide, which will be permanently available on this site for everyone to see.