The Chinese action film “No More Bets” has sparked rumors about the dangers of traveling to Thailand. The film depicts a programmer being kidnapped and forced to develop online scams in a country resembling Thailand.
Released in August, No More Bets is a gripping tale that delves into the lives of unsuspecting Chinese citizens. These individuals are lured into embarking on a supposed work excursion abroad, only to find themselves coerced into participating in illicit activities such as running illegal online investment schemes, engaging in gambling operations, and perpetrating cryptocurrency scams. This compelling narrative unfolds in an undisclosed Southeast Asian nation, but very similar to Thailand.
The movie addresses a pressing real-life issue that has become increasingly prevalent in recent years. Coinciding with its release, the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights published a report highlighting the alarming rise of criminal gangs coercing hundreds of thousands of individuals in Southeast Asia into engaging in the illicit industry.
While human trafficking and online scams do occur in Southeast Asia, there is no evidence of large-scale operations like those depicted in the film happening in Thailand. However, the rumors have caused concern among Chinese tourists, leading to a negative perception of the country.
The Thai government is trying to revive its tourism industry, especially with Chinese tourists, but the viral rumors may deter potential travelers. There have been real incidents of abduction and ransom in Thailand, but they are isolated cases.
Thai and Chinese Officials Address Concerns Over Negative Film Portrayal
Thai and Chinese officials recently met to discuss a Chinese film that depicted Thailand in a negative light, causing worry among Chinese tourists. Minister attached to the Prime Minister’s Office Puangpet Chunlaiad informed Chinese Ambassador Han Zhiqiang during the meeting that the film titled “No More Bets” wrongly portrayed Thailand with illegal activities, potentially affecting Chinese tourists’ perceptions of safety.
Film Misrepresents Thailand, Leading to Misunderstandings on Chinese Social Media
Minister Puangpet clarified that the film was not shot in Thailand but featured the Thai language in some scenes, leading to misunderstandings on the Chinese social media platform Weibo.
A recent Weibo survey showed that 48,000 of 54,000 respondents avoided travelling to Myanmar for security reasons. Another survey found that respondents no longer wanted to travel to Southeast Asia, and more than 85 percent cited security concerns as the main reason they didn’t want to travel, according to Thai daily Krungthep Thuragit.
The purpose of the meeting was to address concerns among Chinese citizens regarding the inaccuracies in the film and to highlight Thailand’s robust safety measures for tourists. The Thai government also emphasized the significance of maintaining open communication with China and discussed potential collaboration between Thailand’s Department of Public Relations and China Media Group (CMG) to counter misinformation and enhance bilateral relations.
China Expresses Confidence in Thailand’s Popularity as Tourist Destination
Ambassador Han Zhiqiang responded positively, assuring that Thailand remains a popular destination for Chinese tourists and expressing confidence that this incident would not affect their trust. He also highlighted the upcoming Chinese New Year festival as an opportunity to strengthen travel relations between the two countries.
Thailand is one of the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists, who accounted for nearly 30% of the total international arrivals in 2019.However, since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of Chinese visitors has plummeted, and has not yet recovered to the pre-crisis levels.