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.
Anger over five tonnes of garbage left by Tiananmen Square visitors
Commentators question the ‘patriotism’ of Chinese visitors
Angry comments on the “uncivilised” behaviour of the Chinese flooded the nation’s blogosphere on Wednesday after state media revealed that five tonnes of rubbish had been left by 110,000 observers at a flag raising ceremony at Tiananmen Square in the nation's capital on Tuesday, China’s 64th National Day.
A debate on the true meaning of patriotism began as harsh criticism was directed at the “unpatriotic” participants who had come from all parts of China and braved the rain to attend the ceremony.
“Are these people really being patriotic? Why would you do this if you really cared about your country?” one commentator wondered.
“But it’s really about social morality rather than patriotism,” argued a commentary published by Beijing News. It suggested that the government should hand out free rubbish bags in the future.
The state-owned Xinhua news agency also chimed in, calling the littering a “disgrace”.
“If one can’t take care of their rubbish, how can they be expected to be a selfless patriot? ” it added.
Other bloggers compared the mess with photos showing a clean Taipei street following its occupation by more than 300,000 Taiwanese protesters in a recent demonstration.
“The civilisation standard of our citizens is falling behind that of the Taiwanese. Let’s admit it and catch up,” one wrote.
But according to a popular microblogger “Zuoyeben” (translated as “homework book”), the Chinese have actually improved their behaviour.
Older news headlines shared by Zuoyeben on Sina Weibo showed that eight tonnes of rubbish were left in Tiananmen Square following National Day celebrations last year. On the same public holiday in 2005, the Chinese left a total of 19 tonnes of rubbish.
"Let's consider this significant progress," he said.