China Tries to Teach Its Tourists Manners

PHOTO: Chinese words are seen on 3,500 year old Luxor temple in Egypt
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America reinforced its reputation as the world's worst tourists earlier this week when a Yank knocked the finger off of a 14th century statue in Florence, Italy.

But China has been deemed the world's second worst tourists according to the Living Social website, a status underlined earlier this year when a 3000 year old Egyptian relic was found to be freshly inscribed with "Ding Jinhao Was Here."

The Egyptian vandalism was the latest black eye for Chinese tourists, prompting the country to begin an effort to make its traveling citizens a bit less boorish.

The push comes from on high, with Vice Premier Wang Yang saying "improving the civilized quality of the citizens" is necessary for "building a good image" for the country.

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The publicity head of the Chinese Communist Party, Liu Qibao stated at a conference that he believes promoting polite tourist behavior will help boost the country's soft power.

China's tourism industry leaders have issued new guidelines for citizens abroad, highlighting acts such as littering, vandalism, speaking loudly in public, and not respecting local customs.

It's not the first time the government has tried to improve the manners of its people overseas.

The renewed push comes after unflattering media reports on mainlanders visiting Hong Kong Disneyland emerged in October 2006. At the time, the Ministry of Tourism issued a set of manuals for travelers highlighting the need to improve personal hygiene and how to wait in line.

Among the helpful hints were suggestions that Chinese tourists "not take their socks or shoes off in public" and "protect the environment by not littering or spitting on the ground."

The international criticism, however, has been challenged by Chinese netizens. In one of his blog posts, a user by the name of "Chinese Marco Polo" criticized the media's portrayal of so-called rude tourists, describing the reports as "over-exaggerated."

"While Chinese people lettering messages on 3000 year old relics is certainly wrong, the museum is also clearly at fault by providing such easy access to the artifact" the blogger reasons.

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