Japan and Thailand, once top destinations for Chinese travelers, are now facing concerns about personal safety, as revealed by a new survey involving over 10,000 Chinese citizens. The change in preference stems from various factors. In August, Japan released treated radioactive wastewater from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Despite assurances from the World Health Organization about the safety of seafood, some travelers remain apprehensive.
In Thailand, the shift in perception has been influenced by two blockbuster movies. The first, “No More Bets,” is a fictional tale not set in Thailand, yet it depicts a young couple enticed by job offers in Southeast Asia, only to be trapped in an online scamming scheme. Such situations, involving hundreds of thousands of people, are currently a concern, as noted by the United Nations.
Pia Oberoy from the United Nations Human Rights Office explained the issue’s prevalence over the past two to three years, particularly since the COVID-19 pandemic. Border restrictions have led to the repurposing of compounds by transnational crime groups. These places are used to force people into executing scams, creating dual victimhood – those scammed out of significant amounts of money, and others coerced into perpetrating these scams across Southeast Asia.
Oberoy clarifies that there is no evidence of tourists being abducted or kidnapped in Thailand, contrary to rumors on Chinese social media. However, these scam compounds are known to exist beyond Thailand, in border regions around Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia, particularly in special economic zones with less police oversight. These zones are increasingly viewed as lawless areas where drug, wildlife, and human trafficking thrive.