Chinese outbound tourists, policy reforms, and mobility regime *
The second chapter dealing with issues at the people’s level is a study of China’s outbound tourism. With more than three decades of dynamic economic expansion at double-digit rates and opening up, more and more Chinese citizens can afford to travel. Their pent-up desire to see the world seems to have been met when droves of Chinese tourists are seen, especially in Asian countries such as Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea, Indonesia, Vietnam, Singapore, and Malaysia. In fact, China is “the world’s largest international tourist senders and spenders”, according to Aranya’s and Zhu’s study. While tourists usually decide their destinations for themselves, the authors suggest that the hand of the state in the case of China is evident. By examining the chronological developments of China’s outbound tourism since the 1980s and the use of outbound tourism by China in international politics, it is demonstrated that Beijing’s control and intervention have been important in shaping China’s outbound tourism. In addition, Beijing could use outbound tourism to serve its diplomacy. In fact, Chinese outbound tourism could be a very important diplomatic tool in rewarding or punishing the destination countries. It may be asked if China has challenges or problems in controlling and directing the flow of Chinese tourists. From the study, it seems that at the people’s level, as suggested by the authors, Beijing is effective in mobilizing its citizens as the latter behave as citizens-subjects and are exhorted to be “good members” in building a rising China. Perhaps more importantly, there is what the authors call “filial nationalism”, notably among the young, to defend the interests of the country.