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Graffiti covers a 1,400-year old pagoda at the Qinming Temple in Henan province. Photo: China Foto Press

Foreign Ministry calls on Chinese to behave while overseas after Egyptian graffiti fiasco

The foreign ministry has urged mainland tourists to behave themselves when travelling overseas, after a Nanjing teenager recently defaced a 3,500-year-old Egyptian sculpture.

Commenting on the incident, foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said yesterday he would like to see the rising number of Chinese tourists travelling abroad act in a civilised way.

"There are more and more Chinese tourists visiting foreign countries in recent years," Hong said. "We hope that through tourism, we may improve our friendship with foreign countries, and we also hope that Chinese tourists will abide by local laws and regulations and behave themselves."

Hong added that he would need to find out if the Egyptian government had raised the matter with the Chinese government.

An internet user recently tracked down the Nanjing teenager who wrote "Ding Jinhao was here" in simplified Chinese characters on a sculpture at a 3,500-year-old Egyptian temple years ago during a visit to the Temple of Luxor.

Ding's graffiti caused an online stir this week when a microblogger posted a photo of the message, citing it as an example of embarrassing behaviour by mainland tourists abroad.

Ding's parents asked for forgiveness and said they wanted their son to be given the opportunity to reform his ways.

Mainland media have uncovered a number of other cases of graffiti by mainland tourists, including one mark left by mainland soccer fan on a corridor at St Paul's Cathedral in London proclaiming "Guoan [FC] is champion".

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as: Citizens warned against leaving a bad impression