July 05, 2007
Subject: How To Deescalate Conflicts
The Embassy has seen more and more cases of minor confrontations
involving American citizens escalating into serious altercations. In a
few cases arguments over as little as 10 RMB have led to injuries,
property damage, police involvement and restitution. Identifying
potential confrontations before they become physical and extracting you
from the situation before blows are exchanged is the wisest course of
action. Becoming involved in a physical confrontation over 10 RMB just
isn't worth it.
While more easily said than done, this approach could require taking a
non-confrontational attitude even when you are in the right, and backing
down to someone in the wrong when the circumstances require it to avoid
The fact is that getting involved in a "fight" with someone anywhere is
a dangerous undertaking, but it is made even more dangerous by the
willingness of bystanders to get involved without warning.
To avoid situations that might lead to a physical confrontation we ask
that you please consider the following:
- If you become the target of attention of a drunken group or
individual, leave the area immediately. Do not try to talk to them,
reason with them, or argue with them. Once targeted, staying in the
same area and "ignoring" them normally makes matters worse. Get away
from them as soon as possible.
- Avoid situations involving individuals who are intoxicated,
arguing, and/or causing a disturbance. Leave the area before they
involve you in "their" problem.
- If you find yourself in a challenged situation, it is far better
to disengage immediately and leave the area. Fighting over a bump, a
perceived slight, a parking spot, 10 RMB, or a stare just isn't worth
- Avoid putting others into a situation where they feel challenged
and required to act. Be apologetic if the situation warrants, and do
what you can to indicate that no offense was intended.
- If someone tries to engage you in a fight, back away and remove
yourself from the area immediately. Should a confrontational situation
occur involving someone in your party, companions should, if the
situation permits, immediately step in and extract any would-be
combatants as quickly as possible. Once disengaged, leave the area
- If you are out with friends or acquaintances who drink to excess
urge them to return home as soon as possible. Many of the
confrontational situations reported to us involve those who have
consumed so much alcohol that their judgment is impaired.
Should you find yourself engaged in an altercation despite your best
efforts, do your best to defuse the situation as quickly as possible and
leave the area as soon as the situation allows. If the Police are
called to the scene, "fight" participants are normally taken to the
local police station to determine fault or work out a settlement. If
injuries are claimed the police may require the claimant to go to a
hospital to determine the severity of injuries. The severity of
injuries will determine the seriousness of any crime committed.