China's rapid economic development and improvement in living standards have led to a boom in its outbound tourism industry. In 2008, China's outbound tourism expenditure reached USD36.2 billion, ranking fifth in the world. Under the impact of the global economic crisis, outbound tourism is not only a source of revenue to other countries, but also a type of "gift" by China's leaders when they go abroad on official visits. While China is home to an enormous tourist market with high consumption potential, its authoritarian regime and state-owned travel agency have enabled it to exert control over the flow of outbound tourists. These two measures of control have become China's bargaining chip in diplomacy and the work of a "united front". Between 2008 and 2009, China put a damper on outbound travel to Macau and Kaohsiung, Taiwan, validating that its control over outbound tourism is both an economic boost and a threat to other countries.