Foreign media reported on Oct. 31 that the number of Chinese executives, tourists and students traveling to the United States is declining, a sign that the scale of the trade war between Washington and Beijing may be expanding in unpredictable and costly ways.
According to statistics from the State Department, the number of Chinese who received business, leisure, entertainment and education visas between May and September of this year decreased by 102,000, or 13%, compared with the same period last year.
In the first week of October, bookings for U.S. -based Air China dropped 42 percent, according to Sky Cruise, a search engine owned by Chinas largest travel company, and the national holiday usually means a surge in outbound travel.
The report said that unlike President Trump, who often complained about a huge trade deficit with China, the United States enjoyed a sizable trade surplus in services, making the industry a huge and vulnerable target in a long trade war. Since 2011, U.S. trade in services to China has grown at more than three times the rate of growth in the commodity trade that Mr. Trun has often focused on.
The report said this could cost the U.S. tourism industry its most profitable customers -- $6,900 per trip for Chinese tourists --- and hurt the interests of American colleges, which have enrolled a surge in the number of Chinese students in recent years.
Last year, the number of Chinese students studying in the United States exceeded 350 thousand, almost two times that of India, the second largest source country.
The University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign was one of the most popular choices for students in Beijing and Shanghai, with 5,845 Chinese students last year, up from 950 a decade ago. Foreign students are attractive to these schools because they usually pay much more than their own residents.
Joey Ma, research assistant at the Paulson Institute in Chicago, said if Chinese citizens limit spending on travel, financial services or consulting contracts, the United States would feel the impact faster than if Beijing imposed additional tariffs on American goods.
She says Chinese manufacturers need time to reorganize complex supply chains, but Chinese consumers can easily switch their holiday plans from Napa Valley in California to Tuscany in Italy.
If the situation is escalated, we can expect (Mao Yizhan) to turn to other areas such as tourism, Ma said. The service industry is quite different from the export commodities. When the demand for something disappears, the result will not be immediate. However, when the demand for services disappear, the number will drop immediately.
The largest category of services so far, according to the Commerce Department, is tourism, which last year generated $32 billion in revenue for U.S. airlines, hotels and travel operators, twice as much as U.S. aircraft sales to China.
The number of Chinese tourists to the United States dropped during the week-long National Day holiday against the backdrop of the ongoing Sino-US trade war, the Straits Times website reported on October 30.
Sun Jie, chief executive of Ctrip, Chinas largest travel website, said that travel agencies in the United States had been expecting a large number of Chinese tourists during the Golden Week in China from October 1 to 7, but in fact there were not as many Chinese tourists going to the United States.
Air ticket sales from China to the U.S. during the Golden Week were 42% lower than in the same period last year, according to SkyPatrol, a travel ticket search engine.
Reported that in the Ctrip Golden Week of the most popular overseas tourist destination list of Chinese tourists, this year the United States fell five places from last year, ranking tenth.
Sun Jie said that during the Golden Week in New York, she found that the number of Chinese tourists to the city has not increased significantly.
In the past, she says, the United States has been popular with Chinese families, who like to send their children to the United States for summer camps.
Sun Jie said that safety, whether there are direct flights and whether the people of the destination countries are hospitable are the key factors for Chinese tourists to consider when they go abroad.