Chinese Tourists and Six Uncivil Behaviors – 文明


These days, Chinese tourists have developed a bad reputation, not only abroad.  Chinese people are also tired of Chinese tourists.  “东方卫报” (dōngfāng wèibào – “The Eastern Guardian”), a Nanjing based daily newspaper, published the following article on their front page on Tuesday April 7, 2015:


The heading translates to “Take it Easy on Your Outings: Six Kinds of Uncivil Behavior to Take Note Of.”  The six uncivil behaviors are listed below:

违规吸烟 (wéi guī xīyān) – smoking illegally

随地吐痰 (suídì tù tán) – spitting phlegm everywhere

争抢座位 (zhēngqiǎng zuòwèi) – to scramble for the seats

乱扔垃圾 (luànrēng lājī) – to litter garbage

大声喧哗 (dàshēng xuānhuá) – to be noisy and to make a racket

推挤插队 (tuī jǐ chāduì) – to push, shove and cut in line

Examples of the behavior:

A Chinese tourist was fined in Thailand for washing her feet in a public bathroom on Phi Phi Don island

Failed System

The incidents including Chinese tourists within China and abroad are too numerous to count, but one thing is for certain, everyone recognizes what’s going on in these pictures.  I would like to say in my own opinion that I don’t enjoy the blame game.  Furthermore, I think it’s safe to say that it’s a systematic problem.  By this I mean, the system has failed.  What system is that?  The education system as well as the household system.  Chinese children slave away their youth in the classroom, some spending as much as 16 hours studying/practicing/learning a day without a weekend.  This means that there is far less time learning how to be a personable…well…person, specifically, in public.

Furthermore, there is the other extreme, where there is a suddenly large amount of people trickling into the cities with a lack of education and earning enough to travel, carrying with them their behaviors from their villages.  For example, little boys certainly would be permitted to go outside to urinate on a tree in a village where nobody was likely to see, but when this family moves to the city and the boy has the habit to urinate anywhere outside, it becomes a huge problem in more than one way.


The problem is multifaceted, and the problem is largely misunderstood by travelers to China and by witnesses abroad.  I have heard far too many people verbally attack Chinese for their behavior without considering the question “why?”  In my book, that’s misfortune.  Fortunately, the Chinese central government has already recognized the problems and has taken serious steps to remedy them.  In 2013, the government published a new Tourism Law to help educate citizens on more civil behavior.  ( – English version of the law)

The reality is that Chinese tourists will only increase in numbers, and they won’t necessarily be getting any more civil in the foreseeable future (educating the huge number of tourists is a monumental task for the Chinese government).  I offer a suggestion to countries that receive Chinese tourists: invest in adding Chinese to all the signs reminding Chinese people to be civil.  In the West, people are expected to behave themselves in public; however, in China, signs/posters/pamphlets/loudspeakers–you name it–are used everywhere in public to remind people to behave themselves.  Partially implementing this strategy with the Chinese language may have a positive effect.

Tell me what you think.  What can be done to counter this issue?


6 thoughts on “Chinese Tourists and Six Uncivil Behaviors – 文明

  1. Reblogged this on Shenzhen Noted and commented:
    Uncivil tourists and a call to post “act civilized” announcements in Chinese outside of China. The post has me thinking about 文明 both as a technology of regulating relationships between strangers and as Ann Anagnost’s early work on “civilization” as a means of regulating the bodies of peasants so that they might be mobilized more easily for post-Mao politics (see the prescient National Past-Times: Narrative, Representation, and Power in Modern China, an anthology of essays published during the early and mid 1990s).


  2. The “ugly Chinese” will eventually disappear as the “ugly American” of the 1970s did. Back then Americans travelling to Europe were considered too loud, uncivilized and throwing money around (given an exchange rate regime back then that favourited the USD they got a really cheap deal). Eventually the problem disappeared. The same will happen to Chinese tourists. Witness a bunch of university students travelling in the States or Europe – they don’t behave much differently compared to western students.

    On the other hand, I’m living in Hong Kong and therefore encounter many Mainland tourists on weekends. And granted, they are loud and noisy (why do you need to shout in that stupid mobile phone?) but on the other hand whenever my pregnant wife and I took the metro she only got offered seats my mainland tourists….

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think what most Westerners are quick to forget is that China is a developing nation. Europe and the US are the world’s most developed areas in the world! The majority of the world is experiencing the same situation as China.


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