words mary von aue | image helen k
In an effort to improve the image of Chinese tourists abroad, authorities in Beijing will now blacklist misbehaving travelers.
Associated Press has reported four cases this week as a result of Beijing’s growing awareness of the reputation of “Chinese rudeness.” The China National Tourism Administration hopes that the move will combat the reputation, but no word on whether Beijing wishes to combat the reputation of being a little controlling.
Thanks to a rule that took effect in April, the National Tourism Administration will have the ability to blacklist any person for unruly or disrespectful behavior. While no punishments are specified, blacklisting means that the agency can notify police, border security, customs, as well as credit agencies, which could see their travel plans deeply affected if not cancelled.
Besides the blacklist, these perps belong in a hall of fame. AP reports that the one woman has been blacklisted for pouring hot instant noodles onto an AirAsia flight attendant, which forced the flight to return to its port of origin in Bangkok. She will remain on the blacklist for two years.
Other blacklist entries are relatively benign, albeit disrespectful enough for China to take notice. One individual climbed onto statues of revolutionary soldiers for a photo shoot, obviously inciting local sensitivities. His photos on top of the shoulders of a Red Army soldier at Shengli Shan has reserved him a spot on the blacklist for ten years. Considering the woman who physically harmed another person only got hit with a two-year booking, it’s clear China wants to convey a zero-tolerance policy towards the disrespectful.
The rule seems arbitrary and may prove difficult to enforce, but I admire the sentiment. Tourists are a nation’s unofficial ambassadors, and incentivizing good behavior isn’t the worst initiative. Remember the Americans who carved their names into Rome’s Colosseum, and then had the audacity to (of course) take a selfie with their crime? Rome remembers. Even a bit of home-based finger wagging could symbolically ease a country’s outrage and do wonders for public relations, but a government can only do so much to enforce what ought to be self discipline.