China's Ministry of Culture and Tourism has issued a travel advisory warning citizens to "fully assess the risks" of travel to the United States in light of recent "shootings".

The Chinese equivalent of MFAT which is responsible for giving foreign travel guidance has issued a warning against trips to the US.

The advisory cited violent crime and even harassment by US law enforcement as reasons to give a trip to the US a miss.

The advice which is used by Chinese citizens planning trips abroad will remain in place until the Ministry deems it necessary to revise its warnings.


A Chinese Ministry spokesperson told media that this warning was deemed "necessary in light of current circumstances".

Although there were no specific incidents referred to in the press conference, the announcement via the official Xinhua News Agency came just four days after the widely reported Virginia Beach shooting which killed 12. According to the Gun Violence Archive the incident was the 150th "mass shooting" recorded in the US this year.

However, sceptics say this travel advisory has less to do with violence and more to do with the ongoing trade war between the US and China.

The US black listed the Chinese tech giant Huawei and banned American companies from doing business with the cell phone manufacturer.

So far billions of dollars in have been placed on imports between the US and China.
Travel advisories are the latest tactic and a sign that both sides are beginning to bring dirty tactics to the table in the world's largest trade war.

In January the US Department of State issued an announcement advising Americans to "exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals."

As the first salvos of the trade war were being let off – North American travellers feared retaliation for Huawei executive Meng Wanzhou arrest in Canada.

The Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau claimed that the detention of diplomat Michael Kovrig and businessman Michael Spavor in China were "arbitrary arrests." Canada stopped just short of saying these espionage charges were in retaliation for Wanzhou.


What did China say?

The translated advisory made on Tuesday reads as follows:
"Recently there have been shootings, robberies and thefts happening frequently in the US. The Ministry of Culture and Tourism reminds Chinese tourists to fully assess the risks of going to the US for travel."

"For some time, US law enforcement agencies have been harassing Chinese citizens with interrogation upon entry or exit, and on-site interviews, among other forms."

"Therefore the Ministry of Culture and Tourism issued the tourism reminder, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Chinese Embassy and consulates in the US decided to issue the safety reminder to raise safety awareness. That, I believe, is what a responsible government should do."

Will it affect tourism in the States?

Overseas visitors are an important part of any economy and US businesses would be sorry to lose out on foreign currency being spent in the States.

Politicising tourism is nothing new, and in recent years China has been a growing influence on the international tourism industry.

From just over 40 million outbound tourists in 2007, last year Chinese tourists made 149.72 million overseas trips.

According to the CChinese Ministry of Culture, America is the top overseas destination for Chinese tourists outside of Asia.

Yet, in terms of the overall picture China still makes a modest portion of the US's overall international arrivals. Peaking in 2017 with 3.17million visitors China made up over 8% of America's tourists.

There has been a noticeable slow down in Chinese visitors since the middle of last year and the growing trade tensions. However, it is hard to say at this stage if this will be an ongoing trend.

In 2016 the US suffered a drop in international visitor numbers, which some operators dubbed the "Trump slump" following the recently election of a president who was wildly unpopular over seas.

However, projected growth continues in tourism numbers to the states - albeit at a slower rate than previously.

The Kiwi appetite for a US holiday continues to be unaffected.

At the beginning of the year Brand USA's chief communications officer Anne Madison told the Herald the "Trump slump" had failed to materialise in New Zealand.

"The political environment is top of mind with people but ultimately will not affect their decisions. The primary decision that people make is about the people of a country rather than politics,''she said.