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Chinese Tourists' Bad Behavior To Be Curbed
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With more and more Chinese tourists traveling abroad, other countries are becoming increasingly uncomfortable when confronting Chinese tourists' bad behavior. China National Tourism Administration and the central government's Office of the Spiritual Civilization Development Steering Commission have released a list of "dos and don'ts" for citizens intending to travel abroad in early October.

The move aims to promote civilized behavior among Chinese travelers and restore the country's image, which has been tarnished by the behavior of some Chinese tourists, according to Xinhua News Agency.

On September 22, the two government departments exposed 10 sorts of bad behaviors, Southern Weekend reported on September 28.

"Littering", "spitting", "snatching bus seats", "queue-jumping", "taking off shoes and socks in public", "speaking loudly", "bad temper and cursing", "smoking in non-smoking areas" and many others are listed in "The Frequent Bad Behaviors of Chinese Citizens Who Travel Abroad", enumerating complaints by netizens.

This summary came as a damning warning ahead of this year's golden travel week -- China's National Day holiday, and could cause a poor reflection on Chinese society. According to several rumors, the nation's relevant departments "are prepared to update the passport law, punishing those who badly behave in other countries and damage Chinese tourists' image, and restrict them from leaving the country again."

"In recent years, some Chinese citizens' bad habits have severely damaged China's image as a 'nation of etiquette', causing huge concern and criticism from both home and abroad." said Li Xiaoman, an official from the spiritual civilization office.

According to the newspaper, a report about tourists' bad behaviors at Hong Kong Disneyland opening day in last September, astounded top officials. Li Changcun, a member of Chinese Communist Party's Political Bureau Standing Committee, asked relevant departments to help improve citizens' manners. Li Xiaoman indicated that China will initiate a project to improve the situation in three years and that this exposure was just the beginning.
Zhang Lishen, a civil servant from the State Intellectual Property Office who once went abroad, told that besides the common bad habits like "spitting", what startled him was "group activity" and "loud speaking".

"Chinese people like to act in a group. Tens of people move together, talking and laughing, and taking up a whole bench when they rest." he said.

"Foreign restaurants are very quiet even when they are full of guests. People keep their voice low enough to just let the talking partners hear. But many Chinese people speak very loudly, totally ignoring others' feelings and privacy." Zhang added.

Bai Yang, a Taiwan scholar, has written a typical example in his book The Ugly Chinese, "Two  Guangdong people talked on a street in America. Local people thought they were going to fight and called the police. But when the police came and asked what they were doing, they said, 'We are just whispering." This mirrors the view of Shanghai scholar Zhu Dake who thinks the noisy behavior indicates that Chinese people lack the sense of public manners.

Wang Yuan, once a student in Britain, said Chinese people always like to take photos everywhere, even where photos are strictly prohibited. He said this could lead British people to comment that Chinese are simple or behave bizarrely, a far from desirable outcome.

"We are going to improve the inner being of every Chinese citizen. Travel issue is a breaking point. Those who travel abroad usually have money and high social status, we'd like to start with them." said another official from central spiritual civilization office.  

According to him, the office was discussing details of tourism guides and behavior regulation with eight central departments including the Ministries of Foreign Affairs, Commerce, Public Security, Construction, Railways, Communications and the National Tourism Administation.

But the official denied the rumors that measures will restrict offenders from going abroad. "We haven't heard such kind of the proposals."

The guidelines were issued on October 2.

Guo Xiaocong, a professor at the University of International Relations, suggested that governments should classify and ban the worst offenders from travel, thus enabling travel agencies to control and supervise tourists' behavior by promoting responsible actions at the start of tours.

Among the guidelines for Chinese travelers are to not litter, not talk loudly, respect queue order, be polite in public places and observe the "ladies first" rule with spitting sitting top of the bad habits.

The number of Chinese traveling overseas has rocketed in recent years as many in the nation of 1.3 billion people become wealthier. Chinese tourists made 31 million trips abroad last year, with that number expected to rise to 100 million by 2020.

( by Zhang Rui October 8, 2006)

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