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How Chinese outbound tourism contributes to China soft power

Popularity 2Viewed 3779 times 2014-12-1 00:17 |Personal category:Tourism in China|System category:Others| Chinese, China power, China soft power, Chinese tourists


Over the past 10 years, the Chinese outbound tourism has literally exploded, going from a mere 30 million in 2004, to a staggering 100 million per year. 

Its number of Chinese tourists is not the only thing that has drastically improved. The other worth talking about is definitely its relations with other countries. 

Today, we will catch a glimpse about how the two are inter connected and how they put China into a positive circle that will only keep spinning faster and faster within the next decade. 

First, to completely understand how things were, how they are and how they will be let's take a look at the Chinese tourists themselves

Who are the Chinese tourists?

The mainstream Chinese tourists are post 80s’ and post 90s’ of the rising middle class that wishes to see and experience more than their elders ever did thanks to the still fairly fast-paced economic growth.  These people have not suffered the years of deprivation, just like the post 90s’ after them and are very interested in what is outside of China. They are more interested in improving their lifestyle and experiencing new things than simply working to survive. This is a sign of the newfound wealth of Chinese people  

As you can see, 41% of the Chinese tourists earn in fact between 8000 to 10000 while the average wage in first tiers cities such as Shanghai for Chinese is at about 5000 (China Labour).This also reveals that 88% of the Chinese outbound tourists earn above the average wage in China first tiers cities such as Shanghai. Chinese outbound tourists are therefore mostly wealthy people

Outbound Chinese tourists are wealthy Chinese who have reached a standard of life allowing them to be preoccupied with higher motives than simply surviving, they seek new experience, better life. In addition, Chinese tourists are young and successful Chinese who want to experience more about outside China. They have the financial means to do so. 

What is even more interesting is that, by doing so they create ripples that affect a lot of things at the same time : 

As mentioned above there are 100 million Chinese outbound tourists, who go pretty much anywhere in the world. It starts to become a well-known fact that their most favorite activity is indeed shopping when they travel. This is where it gets even more interesting : 

When a country has 100 million people whose most favourite past-time is actually spending money, this represents a very important leverage within the international community. Hopefully here we are talking about an eye opener that forces everyone to look at how to make the world a better place by improving country to country relationships.


Money spent means investment, means good business for the beneficiaries of these investments Now the problem is that most of the time the main factors stopping Chinese tourists from choosing a country are 

  • The language barrier
  • The visa regulations

Chinese tourists like to have mandarin translated documentation and mandarin speaking personnel at their service on their vacation site. They also like to know that a place is safe and has been vouched for by others. 

So to attract Chinese tourists countries must do something about these two problems. Here is what they technically mean : 

The language barrier

When a language barrier is strong, it means that very few people are able to speak the other country's language:

Two kinds of people can speak the language: 

  •  Those who have taken a liking to the language and learn it but are not natives
  • Those that can be considered natives

 From a foreign country perspective, solving the language barrier problem means either : 

  • Attracting natives by making it easier for them to come and work, which implies a better working relation between China and the foreign country
  • Or developing mandarin learning in your country to have native speaking mandarin. 
These initiatives allows the countries to improve their relationship by getting to know each other better at an individual level. This is how China can develop its soft power while countries have the possibility of benefiting from The Chinese tourists tide

The visa

Visas are measures showing how easily certain types of people can stay for certain purposes. What’s more important here is that they are a direct reflection of the two countries relationship. The better the relationships between the two countries, the easier it gets for residents wishing to travel between both countries. Ultimately you can even have visa waivers; visa free stays and so on.

This is not a surprise, but economy is often a rallying call for countries especially with the fear of recession plaguing the globe. 

Since Chinese tourists, the biggest tourist spenders, are very reluctant to go where visas are hard to obtain, it doesn't come as a surprise that so many countries are actually granting free stay visa for a given amount of time to those premium spenders: it sure makes it easier for Chinese tourists to go to other countries but on a more global level it is also a show of trust and goodwill that can't do anything but improve China's image on the international scene.  


Here have been brushed the extension of China soft power, but let's not forget that nothing is one-sided especially in tourism, culture. Most people say the opening of China to the outside world Opening and reforming policy are also words connected. Now, not only China becomes increasingly acquainted to the rest of the world but more importantly the rest of the world becomes increasingly acquainted to China, as a cultural superpower

Source : 

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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