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Chinese tourists’ bad manners harming country’s reputation, says senior official

China's Vice Premier Wang Yang said that Chinese tourists are harming the country's image. (Reuters)

Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang has criticized the "uncivilized behavior" of his countrymen when they travel abroad, which he says has harmed the nation's image. He blamed the "poor quality and breeding" of the Chinese tourists.

According to Shangaiist, Wang made the remarks during a meeting to discuss the country's new tourism law. He said that some particularly bad manners — talking loudly in public places, crossing the streets on red lights, public spitting — are giving a bad name to China.

Spitting is common in some parts of China, and many older Chinese do not consider it rude or impolite, says the BBC's Raymond Li. Ahead the Olympic Games in 2008, Beijing tried to get its citizens to improve their manners in public, including by reducing spitting and littering. Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping, who introduced anti-spitting rules in the 1980s, himself was known to keep a spittoon by his side, even during high-level diplomatic meetings.

Note the white spittoon placed near Deng's legs:

Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping meeting then-British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher in Beijing in 1984. (Getty Images)

Among the many things the new tourism law aims to accomplish is "promote a healthy and civilized way to travel, to improve the level of civilization of tourists." It stresses that establishing a good image of Chinese tourists is the common responsibility of the government.

Last year, Chinese citizens made 83 million trips overseas, according to BBC's Celia Hatton, adding that China is already the single largest source of international tourism spending. A new report by the United Nations World Tourism Organization says Chinese travellers spent a record $102 billion overseas last year, a 40 percent jump from 2011.

Rising anti-mainland sentiment in Hong Kong has at times coincided with criticism of mainlander tourist etiquette. Some in Hong Kong seem to feel that, despite becoming wealthier, mainland Chinese didn't show sufficient improvement in their manners.

In this video posted on YouTube, a man identified as mainland Chinese is seen screaming and yelling at a female attendant on a passenger ship.

In an article in The Washington Post last year, Andrew Higgins wrote from Indonesia that the locals considered the growing presence of Chinese tourists as a mixed blessing, comparing it to the behavior of American visitors in the 1960s:

Mainland tourists can be “very difficult,” demanding rock-bottom rates and then often complaining about their accommodations. And, he added, they tend to be “very noisy,” something that raises eyebrows on an island that is dotted with Hindu temples. ...

Hartono, an ethnic Chinese and a fluent speaker of Mandarin, said he cannot understand the loud and pushy behavior of many of the Chinese visitors, characteristics that have made them Asia’s modern-day equivalent of the brash, overbearing “ugly Americans” of the 1960s who earned such notoriety in Europe and elsewhere.

The number of Chinese tourists visiting the United States has increased in recent years, and the U.S. Department of Commerce says that between 2010 and 2016, that number is expected to grow by a whopping 232 percent.



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Max Fisher · May 17, 2013

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