At least four Western embassies in China issued an unusual Christmas security warning for “Westerners” on Thursday against “possible threats” in a popular Beijing district.
The notice came ahead of the Christmas holiday in a brief statement by the US embassy reporting it had "received information of possible threats" against Westerners in Sanlitun, known as an entertainment area.
The French Embassy, Britain's Foreign Office and Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs also made similar warnings, as Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the government was ready to provide the necessary safety measures for foreigners.
The area is generally a safe place, but there have been some attacks in the past targeting foreigners. In an incident in August, a Chinese woman was killed and her French husband wounded after they were stabbed by a lone attacker in Sanlitun.
The Beijing police said on its own social media account it had stepped up patrols, focusing on areas like malls and had issued a “yellow” security alert that is planned to last through New Year.
A yellow alert means there can be a threat to public security such as natural disasters or issues related to social order, state media reported.
Normally, Christmas is not celebrated in officially atheist China, but young people have been increasingly participating in the event as an excuse to give gifts.