Bashing Mainland Chinese tourists is rather fashionable in Hong Kong. The South China Morning Post is always eager to print something embarrassing about Chinese tourists. See for example the following two recent articles:
“Chiang Mai locals shocked by ‘rude’ Chinese tourists.” This article quotes a letter to a Thai newspaper by a Chiang Mai resident:
“[Chinese tourists] tend to drive speedily on the wrong side of the road, and often go against traffic on one-way streets. Chinese tourists also often stop in the middle of busy intersections – just to argue among themselves about directions. Some hotel and guesthouse operators are turning them away because they say Chinese tourists often rent a room for two, but stay overnight in a group of four or five. They also deplore their tendencies to litter and hang their clothing on the balcony railing.”
The article then goes on to supply a helpful list of (allegedly frequent) offensive acts by Chinese tourists:
- A tendency to not flush the toilet.
- Flouting traffic laws when driving, riding a bicycle, or parking their car.
- Being loud – even in five-star hotels.
- Littering, spitting, queue-jumping.
- Allowing children to defecate in public pools.
- Terrible English-language skills that lead to difficulties in communication.
“Outrage after Chinese men on Air France flight take wine bottles ‘to go’.” This article takes joy in pointing out how “uncivilized’ Chinese tourists can be by relating an anecdote about two drunk guys on a flight:
Two Chinese men on an Air France flight recently shocked their fellow passengers by snatching eight bottles of wine from the airline service cart, ignoring objections from other travellers on board….
Wen [Fei, a fellow traveller,] tried to stop them after they each took at least eight bottles of wine and stowed them in their bags – without asking the flight crew.
“I explained to them it was not OK and interpreted the flight attendents’ explanation in French, but they said it was none of my business, ” Wen told SCMP.com on Tuesday.
The two men, apparently drunk, then shouted at Wen in the Wuhan dialect, she said.
“They asked me to back off if I ever wanted to leave Wuhan in one piece,” said Wen.
This incident then prompted a number of “netizens” to fire off complaints about Mainland Chinese tourists. And of course, these complaints are also captured in the SCMP.com article:
“The Chinese are always loud and jump queues to get on a flight – even when everyone has a seat,” said a netizen.
But Americans are the original “ugly tourists.” As an American myself, I know that a small number of jerks make everybody else look bad. Key American tourist faults that appear on every “Ugly American” list include that:
- We are too loud.
- We are overly patriotic and too quick to assume that “the American way” is the best way.
- We assume that everyone else will speak English to accommodate us.
I’ve seen the folks who fulfill these stereotypes abroad. I know they exist. Just like I know the Mainland Chinese tourist who argues loudly and spits in public also exists.
But it’s (hopefully) just a smallish portion of American tourists who fuel the “Ugly American” stereotype. Just as it’s only a portion of Mainland Chinese tourists who fuel the “Ugly Chinese” stereotype.
At the end of the day, I suspect that both groups are disliked for being “upstarts.” A final quote from the Chiang Mai article illustrates the point:
When [a Thailand resident] asked a Chinese tourist why he came to Chiang Mai, the man in his 30s “stabbed a thumb to his chest and said ‘I am rich’.”
Americans have long been considered to be “uncouth nouvelle riche” and now Mainland Chinese are considered much the same.
Welcome to the club China.