China's Vice-Premier Wang Yang in May 2013 acknowledged that "uncivilised behaviour" by its citizens abroad was harming the country's image. He cited "talking loudly in public places, jaywalking, spitting and wilfully carving characters on items in scenic zones". Destination countries have been easing visa restrictions to attract more tourists from China, but reports have emerged of complaints about etiquette.
Chinese passengers anger airline staff by refusing to hand over in-flight tableware
In the latest controversy involving Chinese tourists - a group of mainland travellers have upset Singapore Airlines staff by refusing to hand over 30 sets of stainless steel tableware during a recent flight, Chinese media reported.
It was only after repeated warnings from a tour guide that these passengers agreed to hand them back to flight attendants.
The Chinese passengers were on a tour of Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand. While onboard the Singapore Airlines flight, they had intended to keep the stainless steel knives and forks provided during a meal, the Qianjiang Evening News reported on Tuesday.
The report cited a tourist guide - but did not say exactly when the incident occurred. It said the tourists were mainly from a small town in Zhejiang province.
The flight attendants told the tourists the stainless steel tableware could not be kept because it was going to be re-used - unlike plastic disposable items. But the tourists refused to hand them over. The tourists explained that relatives who had flown with Singapore Airlines in the past told them they could keep the tableware, the report said.
The astonished flight attendants then asked a Chinese tour guide for help. The affair finally ended when the guide told the tourists they were hurting China’s image abroad. “Stop hurting the reputation of Chinese people,’’ he said.
The travellers then handed back the tableware, the report said.
The incident follows a number of reports this year on bad behaviour overseas by Chinese travellers. This includes a widely reported incident where a Chinese boy carved his name on a 3,000-year old precious relic during a trip to Egypt.
This prompted China’s deputy-premier Wang Yang to state publicly that Chinese tourists should improve their behaviour overseas.
He said such bad behaviour included Chinese tourists speaking loudly in public, carving characters on ancient relics, and disobeying pedestrian traffic signs.
Last year, US shopping website LivingSocial sponsored a poll which ranked the Chinese at second place, after Americans, as the “world’s worst tourists”. Some 15 per cent of respondents said Chinese tourists were the most obnoxious in the world.