Hong Kong (CNN) – Cannon Yu lives in Shantou, Guangdong Province.
In the past, his sales job at a packaged food company took him to business conferences around the world. But since early 2020, it hasn’t left China and is taking its sales calls online, instead of in person in Thailand, Germany, Morocco and elsewhere.
While these policies keep the Chinese in, they keep most foreigners out, making people like Yu less likely to interact with people from other countries.
And while China has yet to announce plans to lift quarantine and other roadblocks to international travel, Yu can’t wait to get back on the road and travel again.
However, there is one exception — he has big reservations about going to the United States.
How the East looks at the West
Scott Moskowitz, APAC geopolitical risk analyst at decision intelligence firm Morning Consult, says that state-controlled media in China have made examples of anti-Asian violence in the US, making citizens less interested in going there.
“It’s a strategically guarded ecosystem that over-reports and sensationalizes negative foreign news, compared to tight controls on coverage of challenging or troubling instances at home,” he says.
And Yu’s beliefs reflect that.
“They look at people with discrimination (there),” he says. “Not only for the Chinese, but also for the blacks. It’s very difficult to get fair treatment for all people in the United States.”
He added that he has spoken to friends who have visited the US, who say they have been detained and searched by customs agents before being allowed to leave the airport.
According to data from Morning Consult, 22% of mainland Chinese respondents were “not at all interested” in visiting the US, and a further 23% said they were “not that interested”.
57% of respondents say violent crime is the main reason they don’t want to go to the US, 52% cite terrorism, 36% petty crime and 44% worry about anti-China bias. natives
Instead, some Chinese travelers are now looking elsewhere, preferring destinations in Europe over the US, according to the survey.
The rise of violence
Meng, who is originally from Taiwan, represents parts of Queens, a diverse New York City neighborhood with a large Asian American population.
These incidents — which range from street harassment to physical violence — receive extensive coverage outside the US, including in China.
Current geopolitical tensions are not helping. Moskowitz says the perception that the US is China’s biggest rival has only increased the focus on stories of anti-Asian discrimination or violence in the country, even as similar incidents occur elsewhere.
“This difference is particularly exaggerated in (Chinese state media’s) reporting on the US compared to Europe and elsewhere. Some of it is strategic and deliberate, designed to reduce the country’s attractiveness and soft power, which China sees as its great rival, both politically and ideologically,” he told CNN Travel.
“There is a very strong perception in China that there is a lot of global bias against their country,” Moskowitz added. “Personal and national identity are closely linked in China, so there can be concern that more macro and political grievances and resentments (real and perceived) with a country will come back to the individual when traveling abroad.”
How to change perceptions
While changing the way Chinese travelers view the US won’t happen overnight, it’s not impossible.
“The results of this survey specifically suggest that travel companies and destinations need to double down on safety-related messages in their marketing campaigns to Chinese consumers,” said Morning Consult travel and hospitality analyst Lindsey Roeschke, who co-authored the survey with Moskowitz.
It adds: “Travel brands should provide pre-departure information on safety tools and advice. Those wishing to take additional action may consider providing access to a safety-focused guide or designated personal safety representative during passengers’ stays.”
Some countries have issued specific warnings to their citizens about travel to the US, particularly regarding gun violence.
As for Cannon Yu, he’s still eager to travel anywhere outside of China, as long as it’s not difficult.
However, he is still curious about the US and hopes to eventually see it for himself.
There is one place in particular on his list: Las Vegas. “I want to bet,” he says. And then, after a pause, he continues: “I want to make friends.”
Image above: Asian American community leaders lay flowers at a memorial for murder victim Christina Yuna Lee after an anti-Asian hate rally in New York City. Photo by Barry Williams/New York Daily News/Tribune News Service via Getty Images.