Safe and Sound in Shanghai

Exciting news! The Public Control Department of Shanghai Public Security Bureau has teamed up with the Exit-Entry Administration Bureau of Shanghai Public Security Bureau to produce yet another free, attractive, and informative propaganda pamphlet entitled SAFE AND SOUND IS THE WORLD’S BEST WISHES!


Please don’t think this is an entry devoted to making fun of Chinglish. That joke is a little tired by now, and I think it’s sort of mean-spirited sometimes. Rather, I would like to share with everyone what I learned from this educational pamphlet. Here we go!

  1. Pickpockets mix with visitors! Even when going sightseeing! Those crafty devils. Therefore beware.


  2. Your car is not a safe. So you know all those sacks you have marked with dollar signs and stuffed full of cash? Don’t keep them in your car. They could get stolen. You should carry them around with you.


  3. Apparently my foreigner habit of relaxing at night with a wineglass of XO whiskey in front of my flatscreen TV, my back to the open door, is not safe. Good to know!
  4. My habit of gravitating toward stealing and snatching could actually result in me getting my own things stolen! I should in fact stay far away from stealing and snatching.


  5. The theft situation in Shanghai is so bad that luggage actually steals other luggage!
  6. Here in Shanghai we don’t just “eat.” Oh, no… We enjoy delicacies, you country bumpkin! (Meanwhile our things are getting stolen.)


  7. You know that guy that comes into the office with a big black sack and rummages through our stuff? Be suspicious of him!


The production of this pamphlet was truly a kindness on the part of the Shanghai Public Security Bureau. There are some things we foreigners just don’t understand.


John Pasden

John is a Shanghai-based linguist and entrepreneur, founder of AllSet Learning.


  1. Do all you guys in Shanghai offices wear such groovy hats and sweaters?

  2. Da Xiangchang Says: September 16, 2005 at 10:10 am

    Hilarious! All the laowai in the pics look like refugees from the ’60s. Though I think your earlier use of those Department of Homeland Security stencils to explain Chinese matters was even funnier.

  3. They forgot to include the number one rule when dealing with pickpockets in China: If you see someone being robbed, try to be as of little help as possible. Just mind your own business and don’t say or do anything. If you must say something, wait until the thief has left the area before telling the victim.

  4. Prince Roy in Ko Samet Says: September 16, 2005 at 5:13 pm

    you may think these reminders are funny and oh so obvious, but if I had a dime for every US citizen (and I’m sure my foreign colleagues posted abroad would say the same) who didn’t take the simplest , most common sense precautions thus getting a lot of stuff stolen and calling us in a panic, I’d be well on my way to owning my own retirement bungalow here in the Land of Smiles.

    So laugh your ass off, sure, but follow this damned advice. You’d be amazed how many people don’t.

  5. In #6 there’s the advice to “not forget the packing”. Packing your bags or packing in the delicacies?

  6. Prince Roy,

    I think the tourists that are that out of it just need to learn the hard way. The pamphlets won’t help those people anyway; might as well spend the people’s money on something more worthwhile.

  7. Prince Roy, I would say you certainly have the authority to chime in and so, I totally agree with you. If you work in the retail world, you’ll also meet your share of completely dumb, numb, ignorant, nieve, or otherwise, worthless human beings. In all fairness, you meet some of the most enlightening individuals but that’s a ratio of 1:100 … I would say 99% of the people out there are lacking a few cans short of a six pack. It’s a small world 😉

  8. It is interesting to see that is no black people represented in the pamphlets… Yes, all foreign visitors to China are European descent.

  9. haha!! =)

  10. Da Xiangchang Says: September 18, 2005 at 1:14 am


    That’s not a big deal because comparatively, there really aren’t that many black visitors to China. Of course, if this were an American pamphlet, there will a black woman, a turban-wearing Hindu, an Asian kid, etc. Ha.

    Again, I’m more struck by the fact that all the laowai depicted here wear clothes and hairstyles from the ’60s. And that they’re all skinny! 😛 That’s certainly not the case in reality!

  11. Heh, very nice effort by Shanghai PSB!
    Although I don’t like the interface very much, the contents of this blog are superior.

  12. Wow.

    Somebody in the ad company hired by the PSB has a thing for retro.

    While I’m sure Prince Roy is right that these warnings are actually practical and would be of use to the intelligence-deprived foreigner, I think that these people are justifiably paying the price for not developing street smarts back in their respective countries. Everywhere in the world a scammer is a scammer, a pickpocket is a pickpocket. If you walk around town looking like you’re constantly amazed by everything you see — and all of us here in China have met a foreigner like this — somebody is going to consider you an easy mark.

  13. Jacques Aandy Says: September 20, 2005 at 3:17 am

    So would I be too far off to say that a pamphlet prepared for Chinese tourists (from elsewhere in China) would not be too different (other than replacing the laowai pictures)? I wonder !!

    And it’s not the linguistic aspect either (translation into English). At least I don’t think so.

    So what’s the analysis? Do Chinese bureaucrats/ Chinese paople think in a slightly different way? I really am curious to know what you think.

  14. I agree with John, dumb people won’t take the hint. Government best action is to enforce the law, put pickpockets in jail and so on. Sadly government everywhere is more likely to promote aesthetically and noneffective policies.

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