dongping park

Shanghai Park Bars Foreigners from Camping to “Ensure Safety”

The policy exists, but it isn't written anywhere

Chinese authorities have admitted their official policy is to not permit foreign visitors to camp overnight at the Dongping National Forest Park north of  Shanghai, confirming earlier allegations by a British national that he was rejected due to his foreign citizenship.

Chongming County official explained the “Chinese only” policy is because the park lacks the technology required to register foreign visitors, a requirement under Chinese law.

Earlier this week, a user by the name of “MrHello123” posted on the Shanghai Expat forum that he wasn’t able to camp at the Chongming Island park because he is not Chinese.

“I live in Shanghai, I have a residence permit, but “I’m not allowed to enjoy the same recreational activities as the locals because I’m a foreigner.”I’m not allowed to enjoy the same recreational activities as the locals because I’m a foreigner,” he writes. “I’m sure a Chinese person in the UK or America would be pretty upset if they went to a campsite and were told ‘sorry, you can’t camp here because you are Chinese.'”

The British expat said he was sold a ticket for admission to the park, but was never told he couldn’t camp there until trying to register. Afterwards, the park refused to grant the expat a refund.

Furthermore, he claims Dongping park is full of multi-lingual signs for foreign visitors, written in English and even Japanes. When accessing the park’s official Chinese website, no mention is made of this policy.

dongping camp sign

“I didn’t ask the ticket office if I could camp when I bought the ticket but they didn’t tell me I couldn’t either, and then park staff along the way to the camping base all gave me directions,” the man told Shanghai Daily.

“I was only told at the office at the base that foreigners are not allowed.”

Chongming officials said they are working to rectify the problem, and advise foreigners wishing to visit the park to stay and register at local hotels. Chongming police say foreigners aren’t allowed to camp at the park because it “couldn’t ensure his safety.”

If any of this seems familiar, it’s because it is.

The most iconic scene from the film Fist of Fury (1972) shows Bruce Lee rebuking years of Japanese occupation in China by jump kicking a sign at the entrance to a Shanghai park that says “No dogs or Chinese allowed”. The sign didn’t actually exist in real life, but was a real law that forbade Chinese from the privilege of walking into a Shanghai park.

About a hundred years later, it appears the exact same conditions at a Shanghai park exist. This time around, however, the discriminatory policy is directed at foreigners.

To help us imagine what such a sign may look like, Shanghai Expat user “chinash” submitted this photo as the first reply to MrHello123’s original post:

dongping camp sign

Charles Liu

The Nanfang's Senior Editor