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

The incidents including Chinese tourists within China and abroad are too numerous to count, but one thing is for certain, everyone recognizes these pictures.  I would like to say in my own opinion that I don’t enjoy the blame game.  Further, I think it can be safely said that it’s a systematic problem.  By this, I mean the system can 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 outside on a tree in a village where nobody was likely to see, but when this family suddenly 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?

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

  1. I think you’ll find the same kind of articles/problems with any nationality of tourist. Sure, here the focus is on the Chinese, but if you Google “worst tourists” it would probably come up with Americans. Maybe I’ve just been around open-minded people too much, but I’ve never heard of Chinese tourists being an issue, and I’m from New York.

    I do remember, however, meeting a friend at a train-station in Beijing and him scoffing at the people sitting on the floor. He thought it to be evidence of their poverty and lack of education. I didn’t mention I sat on the floor, as well!

    Liked by 1 person

    • The difference here is that the article is actually written by Chinese from within China (it was on the front matter of a Nanjing-based newspaper). I think that is why this article is so different. Chinese people have decided they are tired of reading about their own “race” making these mistakes when going abroad and are trying to change. Additionally, it truly must be a problem if Chairman Xi Jinping and the other top officials have pushed for legislation to change this trend.


  2. Very interesting post. I think the main tourist areas are always going to be the worst like Lijiang and Yangshuo where there are huge crowds. In my opinion because there are so few long holidays in China most tourists are very excited. This does not excuse bad behaviour but may explain it. When I was in Lijiang there were Chinese tourists urinating against doorways they were so drunk. However, I have met many Foreign people who do not like the behaviour of other foreigners in these tourist areas and have left the country as a result. Thanks for following and I really like your informative blog.


    • I 100% agree. This is such a foreign concept to so many Chinese though. Some people are oblivious to the fact that what they do is giving a negative image. A lot of these people are from farm life, get rich, travel abroad and then carry their “farm lifestyle” with them.


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