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A Safety Guide for Studying Abroad

A few days ago, the Education Abroad Service Center of the Ministry of Education and Xinhuanet jointly held the 2022 China International Education Tour Exhibition Safe Study Abroad Special Event. This event invited relevant experts to explain topics regarding fraud prevention, legal aid, and safety tips for studying abroad. 

Learning about telecommunication fraud

When studying abroad, telecommunication fraud is a trap that international students often encounter. “Telecommunication fraud includes online billing, online loans, fake online investment and wealth management, pretending to be logistics customer service providers, acquaintances, or public prosecutors. According to incomplete statistics, over 50 types of telecommunication fraud schemes exist. Xie Qi, a police officer of the National Anti-Fraud Center, said, “The fraud routines often encountered by Chinese students include the fraudulent party impersonating the staff of Chinese embassies and consulates abroad.”

“I have assisted in 3 cases of virtual kidnapping of Chinese students.” Wang Xuejun, an international security education expert, stated. “The basic routine of virtual kidnapping is that criminal gangs pretend to be authorities such as the police and call to inform international students that they are suspected of breaking the law . Later, they will express that the student did not participate in the crime, but that the student must transfer the money to a safe account to prove their innocence. Then the criminal gang induces the student to shoot a kidnapped video on the grounds of “the need for handling the case.” They will then contact the student’s loved ones claiming to have taken them hostage. The student’s loved ones are coerced into paying a ransom to ensure the release of the student. 

Regarding how to prevent such cases, Wang Xuejun suggested that, first of all, we should improve the awareness of anti-fraud, and understand the characteristics and methods of various types of financial crimes such as virtual kidnapping. Secondly, it is necessary to understand the relevant laws, regulations, and law enforcement procedures. For example, the police will not handle cases by telephone, and will not require transfers to remit money. Finally, the most critical prevention strategy is to not transfer or remit money, no matter what the reason is.

Xie Qi stated, “The ultimate goal of telecommunication fraud is transfer of money for a variety of reasons. Therefore, all international students should remember to verify the party before transferring money, and to consult the police if there is any suspicious activity.”

Understand legal procedures and learning to defend one’s own rights

Different countries have different legal systems, and Chinese students abroad may inadvertently violate local laws. In addition, when encountering police enforcement, if you don’t have legal awareness, you may be misunderstood and encounter violent law enforcement. Therefore, it is necessary for students to master some legal knowledge related to daily life and travel. Furthermore, they should understand how to avoid and deal with legal disputes.

“For Chinese students, it is necessary to understand the common legal matters or disputes in different countries. The legal procedures of different countries are different, and students often bear more serious responsibilities because of procedural errors.” He Qihao, an associate professor at China University of Political Science and Law, gave an example based on his experience. “For example, when driving abroad, if you are stopped by the police, they might issue a ticket. At this time, everyone should know that if you have any objection to the content of the ticket, you can file an answer to the court, but you cannot ignore the ticket completely. If you do so, you may face more serious legal consequences, such as paying late fees, or even more serious violations. Additionally, if you go to the court for a hearing and defense, it may change the result of the punishment.”

In response to legal disputes abroad, He Qihao also suggested that Chinese students should have a basic awareness of evidence and pay attention to keeping evidence that is beneficial to them.

“For the majority of international students and parents, we must establish the awareness of protection to  their rights and interests, and be good at protecting them.” He Qihao said, “If you encounter difficulties, you can seek legal assistance from the school you are studying at, Chinese embassies, and consulates. If it is beyond your ability or the situation is complicated, you can also find a lawyer and obtain effective legal support.”

Raise safety awareness and develop your own safety habits

Establishing safety awareness is the consensus of international students and their parents, but what exactly is safety awareness? In this regard, Wang Xuejun believes that ” it is understanding and identifying safe people, safe things, and safe times.”

He further explained: “Safety is relative. In terms of time period, nighttime is more dangerous than daytime. Additionally, early morning has been recognized as the most dangerous time period by domestic and foreign police. In terms of area, relatively unsafe areas include remote places, narrow and closed spaces, and areas with no video surveillance. As for identifying fraudsters. students need to learn skills and methods on how to identify suspicious persons. Furthermore, students must abide by the regulations and follow the customs of the country rather than doing whatever they want and be willful.”

Regarding how to improve safety awareness and apply it in life, Wang Xuejun suggested that everyone pay more attention to news and cases related to safety incidents to understand safety risks and to learn safety knowledge. “With safety awareness, it is equivalent to mastering theoretical knowledge. It is necessary to cultivate safety habits, which requires deliberate practice.”

“An example of safety awareness is the response to shooting cases. If there is no deliberate practice and drills, even if you have learned safety knowledge, it is difficult to correctly respond.” Wang Xuejun said, “Because the occurrence of shooting cases is instantaneous, a normal reaction is to be startled, stay in place, look around to see where the sound came from, or to run away. This is a stress response, but it may lead to exposure to dangerous areas. After repeated practice, when suspected gunshots sound, we can lower our body position and make a calm judgment to escape to a safer area.”

Songzi Li/Managing Editor

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