Home world #trending: Chinese netizens afraid of Southeast Asia travel after hit movie No More Bets shows human trafficking scams

#trending: Chinese netizens afraid of Southeast Asia travel after hit movie No More Bets shows human trafficking scams

#trending: Chinese netizens afraid of Southeast Asia travel after hit movie No More Bets shows human trafficking scams
Blockbuster Chinese crime thriller No More Bets has fuelled fears of travel to Southeast Asia due to its portrayal of cybercrime in the regionThe film is based on real events and tells of two Chinese people lured into an online fraud ring in Southeast Asia after accepting job offersMyanmar and Cambodia have recently been in the spotlight for their online fraud-driven human trafficking rings, affecting more than 200,000 victims Holidaymakers from China expressed negative sentiments in travelling to the regionMost were hesitant to visit Southeast Asia, an online poll showed

By Lee Wenxin Published October 2, 2023 Updated October 2, 2023 Bookmark Bookmark Share WhatsApp Telegram Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

CHINA — Once a tropical retreat for millions of tourists from China, Southeast Asia seems to have fallen out of favour with Chinese tourists after the release of a blockbuster movie, recent reports showed.

Chinese crime thriller No More Bets, which topped the box office in China since its August release, provides a glimpse into the inner workings of cybercrime in Southeast Asia.

The film, which is directed by Shen Ao and said to be based on real events, tells the harrowing account of two people lured into a violent scam ring in an unnamed Southeast Asian country after accepting lucrative overseas job offers. 

The plot reflects the horrifying inside story of overseas cyberfraud and the human trafficking syndicates that reportedly run online scams ranging from love scams to cryptocurrency investment frauds and online gambling. 

In recent years, there have been numerous reports of hundreds of thousands of victims, notably from China, as well as Singapore, Malaysia, Taiwan and the region, who were enslaved in such scam mills that are allegedly operating in countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia, after they were tricked with fake offers of lucrative work.

A report in August by the UN Human Rights office indicated that there are at least 120,000 victims in Myanmar and 100,000 victims in Cambodia trapped in online scam compounds by criminal gangs.

Neighbouring countries such as Laos, the Philippines and Thailand have also been implicated as hubs for human trafficking transit or main destinations for the trafficking of tens of thousands of people. 


Despite being released in August, No More Bets has already become the third highest grossing film of the year in mainland China and raked in more than 3.8 billion yuan (S$711 million) within six weeks from its release.

The hit movie has also sparking heated online debate among the online community in China about whether it is risky to travel to Southeast Asia.

One Weibo user said: “Watching No More Bets, I was really shocked by the authenticity of the scam, but the reality is far more cruel and unbearable than in the movie.”

The Japan Times reported that a recent Weibo poll of more than 50,000 Chinese respondents found that 92 per cent would be hesitant or unwilling to travel to Myanmar, with 5 per cent giving safety concerns as a reason.

A separate poll of Chinese online users found that more than 85 per cent would avoid travelling to Southeast Asia for the same reason.

One Weibo user wrote: “We have been told that there is so much chaos outside, especially with what is happening in northern Myanmar, many people are afraid… If we don’t go to Southeast Asia, there will be a lot less overseas travel.”