Topic |  


Topic |  

mercado-thumbby Juan L. Mercado

“Why are Chinese tourists so rude?,” Amy Li  of South China Morning Post  asks..”They are seen as pushy, loud, impolite, unruly and they’re  everywhere.

Destination countries welcome the tourism cash the Chinese spend. But  they loathe the chaos and hassle some mainland tourists inflict  upon their cities and other tourists.

“I’vebeen asking myself the same question in the past months after reporting on the uncivilized, sometimes galling behavior of some compatriots”.


Every time a “rude Chinese tourist” story is published on SCMP.com, it goes straight into the site’s top 10 most read articles. So I decided to give the question  serious thought,” Li adds.

She read up on the topic, talked to  experts and travel agents, chatted with some of these tourists now at the center of public anger.

“It soon dawned on me that the real question to ask is: “Why are the Chinese rude?”

Most “bad” tourists don’t intend to be “bad“tourists” says, Yong Chen, tourism researcher and post-doctoral fellow at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, “They are just being themselves…..”

Not every Chinese tourist is  rude. Educated people are better behaved than those who have had a lower education, said Chen.

Today’s middle-aged or older tourists were deprived of or received little education during China’s politically tumultuous times.


“Many do not speak English and some are not fluent Putonghua speakers. Their knowledge of destination country and culture is often  outdated or non-existent”


A  “rogue” mainland couple, for example,  recently visited Hong Kong . They called the police and demanded HK$3,000 in compensation after being made to wait two hours for their coach. The travel agency later said the coach had broken down and accused them of “blackmailing”.

Jenny Wang, a Beijing-based Maldives travel agent, said uneducated tourists usually turn a blind eye to local  customs.

A Chinese man vacationing at a Maldives resort flipped after discovering that the restaurant where he wanted to eat was fully booked, Wang said. He yelled slurs at Chinese staff until one member was in tears.


“You cannot reason with these kind of people,” Wang said. “They think they can do anything with their money.”

But one thing many Chinese vacationers don’t want to do with their money is to  tip — a custom in some places which many  ignore, Wang said.


Most travel agents in China brief  clients about tipping in a foreign country ahead of their trip. Most people ended up tipping very little or none.

Some are not used to tipping. And they fail to understand that staff working at the Maldives resorts, for example, usually earn a meager salary, rely heavily on tips, Wang said.

This created increasing tensions between the Chinese and their hosts. Staff would naturally prefer serving guests from countries with a tipping culture. Other staff have gone after Chinese clients and asked openly for tips, a rare thing they did  in the past.

Seoul’s Ewha University is known for its beautiful campus. Students  complained about an influx of Chinese tourists, said the school.

Apparently taking photos on campus was not enough. Some camera-toting Chinese would stride into libraries and take photos without  permission of students, according to media reports.

“We want to keep the campus open to the local community,” said a university representative, But “we’d like to prioritize our students’ right to study in a quiet and safe environment.”

Ewha resolved the crisis by putting up multi-language signs advising tourists to stay clear of study areas.

Yet, thousands of years back, Confucius admonished his students not to “impose on others what you yourself don’t desire”. Chinese tourists now act the opposite way, Li writes.

Living in China, where the rule-of-law doesn’t exist, means everyone looks out for their own interest. It means people have little or no respect for laws.

This is bound to happen when ordinary folk are forced to watch their laws being violated every day by their leaders, Chen said, citing the Chinese idiom, shang xing xia xiao, meaning “people in lower class follow what their leaders in the upper class do”.

A poll by the Public Opinion Program by University of Hong Kong recently found that the number of Hongkongers holding negative feelings towards Beijing and mainland Chinese is up by about 40 per cent since November.

SCMP.com conducted another online poll headlined:  “What makes some Hongkongers dislike mainland China and its people?”

More than 50 half of readers blamed the negative feelings on “ill-behaved tourists”.

“The Chinese government and travel agencies should take the initiative to educate our tourists,” Chen said.

Many argue that,,historically, American and Japanese tourists were also criticized for their bad behavior when.wealthy enough, they traveled abroad for the first time.

This is not an excuse. So, the Communist Party’s Central Guidance Commission for Building Spiritual Civilization and the China National Tourism Administration recently issued a short  rhyme to remind tourists of behaving in a “civilized manner” on the road.

The topic has been a big hit on China’s social media, where bloggers discuss and criticize the uncivlized behavior of their compatriots.

But “Chinese tourists have a long way to go before they will be respected by the world,  Li concludes ###

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply