Is the Wi-Fi in high-speed trains in China reliable and fast enough for audio or video conferences?

It depends on the route and mobile network coverage (after all the Wi-Fi relies on 4G/5G) as well as, of course, how many people are using it at the same time.
There are HSRs that go through mountains and rough terrains with many tunnels, e.g. Sichuan or Fujian/Anhui.

Due to the fact that the train often travels very fast (> 300 km/h), the reception and speed are not very reliable. Although if they started using 5G/EUHT on certain routes, this should in principle greatly improve.

In general, for mid or low quality streaming from Chinese websites it should be enough. WeChat audio calls are perfectly fine (at least two years ago when I took them); video calls are ok-ish.

For connections to foreign servers, it may be worse. Many apps and websites are blocked in China too, so if you are using a VPN on top of it, your connection will suffer from more latency issues.

Note that audio and video conferences will be banned in “quiet” cabins; but this is a choice you can make when you book the ticket.

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Is the boarding process/time the same for any train in China, or does the bullet train have its special boarding process?

As far as steps 5, 6, 7 are described in the graphic, yes, it is the same for all trains.

Identity Check

Since 2012, all passenger trains in China have adopted the “real-name system” where all tickets must be purchased with an associated name (and ID number) and can only be used for the named passenger.

Initially this is was only checked at boarding but to reduce heavy traffic inside the train station, as well as for security measures, nowadays most stations can only be accessed with a ticket and the ID associated to it.

This is strictly enforced almost everywhere (as it also involves the commercial interests of the railway company).

What may be different for HSR (and certain other routes): Many larger stations for more popular routes allow the use of Chinese machine-readable IDs without physical ticket (much like e-Ticket for flights); automated screening (via facial recognition) may be available. But this is not universal for all HSRs at the moment.

There are also stations with dedicated area for HSRs with dedicated lanes that allow faster boarding, which can also be a pain if you are unfamiliar and you may need to exit and enter through another side of the building to transfer trains for example.

Luggage Check & Security Check

This is standard as part of entry process to the station building. I couldn’t remember when it started, but it was a thing since 2008 at latest.

After the terrorist attacks at Kunming and Ürümqi train stations in 2014, the security at stations becomes remarkably stricter and many stations underwent renovations to seal off the station building as a “sterile” area. Additionally, the pat-down/metal detector checks are introduced generally. This is also when much more oppressive policies were introduced in Xinjiang.

But this check can still be quite lax at many stations, as long as you don’t have obviously banned items (e.g. knives). But it does increase the wait queue at peak times, during which many people are just waved through at some stations.

During sensitive periods (e.g. Congress/CPPCC sessions, Olympics), certain trains, HSR or otherwise, will also be subject depending on the destination (e.g. Beijing, Xinjiang).

What may be different for HSR (and certain other routes): Train stations serving HSRs may have more stringent security practices, even though the safety rules are technically the same. But HSR-serving stations are usually large and considered an important location, and sometimes are inspected by higher up officials, so there is a greater desire to at least appear more secure.

Does it take one hour to board a bullet train in China, and if so, why?

There is an airport-style luggage, security, and ID check. Boarding itself doesn’t exactly take one hour, just as boarding an airplane doesn’t really require being there 2 hours in advance, but you need to plan for potential waiting queues, finding your way and walking to the platform, hence the advice to go there early.

china – US citizen, traveling to Shanghai with Taiwan layover then a trip to Taiwan NOT for a layover. Do I need a visa?

I will be traveling to Shanghai for 4 days from NYC through Taipei. My layover is long, about 9 hours. I will be traveling back to Taipei but this time I won’t be on a layover, but rather will travel back to NYC after a week in Taiwan.

My original plan was with a layover through Chicago then direct to Shanhai, but the departure from NYC was bad, and the best I can find is through Taipei.

Will I be able to do visa-free transit, or will my layover in Taipei and then return to Taipei require me to apply for a tourist visa to visit Shanghai?

Many thanks.

air travel – Is the bullet train in China typically cheaper than taking a domestic flight?

Is the bullet train in China typically cheaper than taking a domestic flight? (assume the passenger is flying economy)

I read some conflicting reports, e.g. https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g294211-i642-k8194341-Train_vs_flying_in_china-China.html:

High-speed train tickets are often more expensive than flying. For all longer routes, I flew, save time and money. I found flyIng in China to be on time and efficient, prices are very cheap, US$60-$120 one way on most routes, bottom line, flying is cheaper and faster.

vs. https://www.thechinaguide.com/blog/traveling-by-train-in-china:

China’s high-speed trains are super fast and comfortable, making them a good alternative to flying when traveling in China, especially as domestic flights are often more expensive and subject to delays.

china – What happens to Chinese citizens who are born with dual citizenship?

Nothing “happens” to these children. They are born with dual nationality, and China recognizes them as Chinese citizens, and the other country recognizes them as that country’s citizens.

Note that this can happen in at least 3 ways:

  1. A child born in China to at least one Chinese citizen parent, and a foreign parent who can automatically passes the foreign citizenship onto the child at birth. The child is automatically a Chinese citizen under Article 4 of the Nationality Law.
  2. A child born outside China in a jus soli country to two Chinese citizen parents, neither of whom have permanent residence abroad. The child is automatically a Chinese citizen under Article 5 of the Nationality Law.
  3. A child born outside China to one Chinese citizen parent who does not have permanent residence abroad and a foreign parent, and either the foreign parent can automatically passes the foreign citizenship onto the child at birth, or the child is born in a jus soli country. The child is automatically a Chinese citizen under Article 5 of the Nationality Law.

(Note that in the last two cases the Chinese citizen parent(s) must not have permanent residence abroad, because under the second part of Article 5, the child born abroad will not be a Chinese citizen if at least one parent is a Chinese citizen who has “settled abroad”, and the child has a foreign nationality at birth.)

Chinese consulates abroad will issue “Chinese Travel Documents” (which are valid for 2 years) to these dual-citizen children for travel into and out of China, instead of Chinese passports. These Chinese Travel Documents are passport-like booklets which say inside them “The bearer of this travel document is a citizen of the People’s Republic of China.” One can leave China with this Travel Document in combination with a foreign passport without problems, whereas there will likely be problems if one tried to leave China with a Chinese passport and a foreign passport. If the child is born in China or the child’s Chinese Travel Document expired or is lost in China, and they wish to leave China they can apply for an Entry/Exit Permit to leave China (in combination with their foreign passport), and then obtain a Chinese Travel Document at a Chinese consulate abroad before the next time they wish to enter China.

These dual-citizen children can be added to hukou in Mainland China, and can otherwise stay in China without limit even if they are not added to hukou.

Some people claim that dual-citizen children somehow have to “choose” their nationality when they turn 18. However, there isn’t actually any provision in the Chinese Nationality Law that provides for this, and the law does not provide for Chinese nationality to be automatically lost at any age for not renouncing foreign nationality. One possibility is that Chinese consulates might refuse to issue Chinese Travel Documents to these dual-national children after they turn 18; I don’t know whether this happens or not.

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