Mainland Chinese Tourists’ Bad Behaviour Angers Japanese
While this year the number of mainland Chinese tourists that spent their Chinese New Year holidays in Hong Kong has declined for the first time since the 1997 handover, neighbouring Japan and South Korea have become increasingly popular with Chinese travellers.
Data released by Hong Kong’s immigration department show that 675,155 mainlanders visited Hong Kong between February 18 and 22, a 0.16% drop compared with last year. Many regard the rising anti-Chinese sentiment in Hong Kong as the main cause for the diminishing popularity of the former British colony among mainland visitors.
Over the last few years, the misbehaviour of some mainland tourists as well as the soaring number of Chinese shoppers have caused widespread anger in Hong Kong and prompted many citizens to take to the streets. On February 8, for example, around 800 Hong Kong residents protested against Chinese one-day shoppers and parallel traders that are making the city unlivable.
Japan and South Korea, on the contrary, have seen a 10% increase in the number of mainland tourists this year. Recent data show that a total of 5.2 million Chinese visited the two countries during the Chinese New Year holidays. However, if they hoped to be treated with more leniency and understanding than in Hong Kong, they were wrong. Uncivilised behaviour has, once again, tarnished the image of Chinese tourists.
On 25 February, a Japanese TV programme showed a mainland Chinese mother who let her child urinate in front of a shop in Tokyo’s famous Ginza district. A journalist approached the mother and told her that her behaviour was improper. Yet instead of acknowledging her mistake and apologising, the woman showed the journalist a plastic bag and said her child had urinated inside the bag and had not made the floor dirty.
Some Chinese netizens defended the mother’s reaction. “A child peeing in the street now becomes news. It’s not such a big deal,” wrote a netizen. Others condemned the behaviour. “Travellers must adapt to the customs of other countries,” wrote another netizen. “We cannot go and fill the whole world with our urine.”
That was not an isolated incident. Department stores and shop clerks in Japan complained about mainland Chinese not following the rules, starting to eat snacks before having purchased them, or blocking store entrances by spreading out their suitcases.
The Chinese authorities as well as the media seem to have realised that the misconduct of some mainland travellers negatively affects the image of the entire nation and results in widespread anti-Chinese sentiment. In May 2014, for example, Xinhua News Agency published the “Six Guidelines” and “Six Taboos”, a guide teaching mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong how to behave properly. On February 10 of this year Huang Ping, Director-general of the Department of Consular Affairs, reminded Chinese travellers to behave properly. “You can neither be unruly because you have money, nor can you be fearless because you don’t know local customs,” he said.
Yet it seems that a lot is still to be done in order to change the mindset of those mainland Chinese tourists who simply do not understand what the fuss over international travel etiquette is all about.