China has one of the lowest capital crime rates in the world. It is generally safe to walk the streets at night, and cases of outright robbery or theft is still pretty uncommon.
However, petty crime such as pick pocketing is common, especially in cities which see plenty of tourists such as Xian and Beijing or cities with large flows of migrants from poorer regions such as Guangzhou. In these cities, it is important to watch your wallet and purses, especially in crowded places such as train and bus stations, shopping malls and tourist sites.
Visitors need also be aware of con artistes and cheats. Again, such individuals are more-commonly found in cities flooded with tourists and migrants than in other cities not associated with tourist trade.
Con artistes come in all forms. They may approach you off the streets and offer to bring you to places for cheap shopping or may offer to exchange local currency for US dollars at a better rate. Often, these con artistes work in gangs and it is often to your detriment if you follow them to a shop or make a deal with them. Always avoid any approaches in the streets with caution.
The Chinese are still curious about foreigners; especially in the inner cities. Foreigners or LaoWai are not a novelty in the big cities anymore; despite what some travel books may claim otherwise. Friendly as most Chinese may be, they are unlikely to swarm around you and offer to make friends or pass on special shopping tips to you. Language is still a problem.