The recent popularity of the Chinese action film “No More Bets” has led to rumors spreading on social media about the dangers of traveling to Thailand.
- The popularity of the Chinese action film “No More Bets” has fueled rumors and created a perception among many Chinese that Thailand is a dangerous country.
- While there have been documented cases of human trafficking and online scams in Southeast Asia, including Myanmar and Cambodia, there is no evidence of large-scale scams involving tourists being kidnapped and forced into labor in Thailand.
- The Thai government is trying to revive its tourism industry, especially with Chinese tourists, by offering visa-free entry, but viral rumors of safety concerns may deter potential travelers.
The film depicts a programmer being kidnapped by a gang and forced to develop online scams in a country resembling Thailand. 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.
The film and rumors have caused concern among Chinese tourists, with surveys showing that many are now avoiding travel to Myanmar and Southeast Asia due to perceived safety issues.
Due to the widespread rumors on social media and the portrayal of the kingdom as a dangerous place in the action film “No More Bets,” many Chinese citizens now hold a negative perception of the country.
In No More Bets, which claims to be based on “real events”, a computer programmer finds himself trapped in a gang of ultraviolent crooks somewhere in Southeast Asia, and after being kidnapped in a fictional country that looks a lot like Thailand.
Some scenes of the film, such as the torture with an electric baton of one of the prisoners kidnapped and responsible for developing online scams, are also directly inspired by real facts and clips that have circulated widely on the internet.
Thailand, which relies heavily on tourism, especially from China, welcomed more than 10 million Chinese visitors each year before the Covid-19 pandemic. Figures that Bangkok’s new government is desperately trying to recover at the moment, including by removing visa fees for Chinese tourists from September 26 for 5 months.
However, viral rumours on social media that tourists could be kidnapped and sent to Myanmar or Cambodia to be locked up in online scam complexes are likely to chill many travelers.
But the Thai authorities recently arrested seven Chinese nationals involved in cryptocurrency fraud and money laundering. The scams typically involve building trust with victims on social media and convincing them to invest in cryptocurrency trading.
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.
… inspired by real events
Earlier this year, a Chinese woman in Pattaya, Thailand, was reportedly abducted while picking up her child from school. The suspects demanded a ransom of 4.7 million baht for her release. Police later said they found the Mitsubishi used in the abduction at Suvarnabhumi airport and arrested a Chinese man aged 29 before he could board a flight to Nanning in southern China.
In a separate incident, a former beauty contestant and her Thai boyfriend were among six suspects arrested for the abduction and ransom of her wealthy Chinese ex-boyfriend.
According to a recent report by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), released on 29 August, at least 120,000 people in Myanmar and about 100,000 in Cambodia have been forced to work by gangs running fraudulent call centres.
Other Southeast Asian countries, including Laos, the Philippines and Thailand, have become transit routes for tens of thousands of victims of human trafficking.
Although Thailand has traditionally been a destination, origin and transit country for trafficking in the region, there has been an increase in the number of trafficked persons through the country and in neighbouring countries who are forced to work in such fraudulent operations.