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    Bali Deaths Ruled Murder-Suicide, But Questions Remain

    Flight prices to the resort island are falling as Chinese travelers grow increasingly wary of the region following high-profile incidents that have dominated social media.
    May 18, 2023#tourism#crime

    Indonesian police announced Wednesday that the deaths of a Chinese couple in tourist hotspot Bali was a murder-suicide, sparking widespread disbelief back home.

    Police in Bali’s capital Denpasar said in a media briefing that 25-year-old Li Chiming beat then drowned his girlfriend Cheng Jianan, 22, in a bathtub at an InterContinental Hotel, local media NusaBali reported. He then committed suicide by stabbing himself with “a broken beer bottle in his neck and all over his body.”
    There were no traces of anyone else in the room, local police said, adding that the conclusion was based on forensic investigations of the bodies and the crime scene.
    The police said the incident was caused by “internal reasons” leading to a dispute, although an investigation into the exact motive is still ongoing.

    The couple arrived in Bali on April 27 and had a dispute before arriving at the InterContinental hotel. They were found covered in blood and naked after drinking five bottles of beer ordered from room service, investigators said.
    Back home, the investigation results have prompted more questions than answers for Chinese netizens. In response to a trending Weibo hashtag, which has received over 57 million views, a verified Weibo influencer questioned why the man crawled out into the corridor after stabbing himself.
    In a Weibo poll, some 72% of more than 1,400 respondents questioned the investigation result, with only 13% of respondents saying that it is credible. In another Weibo poll that happened before the investigation result was announced, over half of the 36,000 respondents said they will not go to Bali again, while more than 6,000 respondents said that they had plans to go but not anymore.

    Some netizens are calling for further investigation and even involvement from Chinese police.

    With Chinese tourists’ enthusiasm for traveling to Southeast Asia already hit by dark rumors swirling online in recent months, the latest incident is likely to hit demand further. Li, a worker from Beijing, told local media Jiemian News that his wife’s company had organized a trip to Bali next month, but is now considering canceling or postponing.

    Flight prices from Shanghai to Bali slumped more than 40% from an average of $575 in early April to around $383 over the past month, according to Google Flights data.

    And it is not just Bali that could be affected. Zhang Yu, a tourist guide in Chiang Mai, Thailand, told Jiemian News that local travel agencies have seen their orders being canceled recently for safety reasons.

    It comes after a Chinese businessman’s brutal death in Thailand on Tuesday jumped to the top of social media discussions. Local media reported that he was found with more than 20 knife wounds in a resort hotel room. Three suspects have been arrested.

    Three Chinese tourists in Thailand were also robbed in violent fashion earlier this month.

    Chinese tourists are a major source of income for both Thailand and Indonesia, which saw their local tourism industries suffer as a result of China’s COVID-19 restrictions on international tourism.

    Following the lifting of these restrictions, more than 500,000 Chinese tourists visited Thailand in the first quarter of this year. However, April’s total of 237,000 travelers was “below expectations,” Thailand’s tourism bureau said recently.

    Editor: Vincent Chow.

    (Header image: VCG)