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Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly

Chinese Tourists Behaving Badly
Photograph by Franko Lee/AFP via Getty Images

An act of vandalism by a 15-year-old from China on a vacation in Egypt has sparked a Chinese debate about tourist misbehavior and national shame. While traveling with his family in Luxor, the boy wrote “Ding Minhao was here” on an ancient Egyptian relic that dated back 3,000 years. Another Chinese tourist snapped a photo of the vandalism and posted the shot online. An uproar ensued. The boy’s parents have now apologized and asked for forgiveness, while Chinese cyberspace is filled with accounts of thoughtless Chinese visitors leaving their marks at tourist sites worldwide.

Even the official Xinhua news agency has gotten in on the act, running photos of Chinese graffiti in such places as Egypt, Thailand, and Palau, as well as at home at the Forbidden City and the Great Wall. “We can’t demand that every person behave as a paragon of civilization, but at the least every one of us can demand a civilized bottom line,” Xinhua declared. “Nowadays as more and more Chinese are traveling abroad, we here make this appeal: Please don’t forget you are not just representing yourself but also China.”