The behavior of Chinese tourists abroad has been something of a sore spot for Beijing in recent years.
Following a number of incidents that went viral on the Web last year (including the defacing of the 3,500-years-ago old Luxor Temple in Egypt by a Chinese teenager and photos of Chinese tourists washing their feet at Louvre in Paris), state-run China Central Television (CCTV)’s flagship political show ran a series of videos that aimed at making Chinese tourists more polite – and less embarrassing.
Chinese President Xi Jinping has become the latest Beijing official to advise Chinese tourists improve their image abroad, apparently by eating less instant noodles.
“Don’t throw mineral water bottles around and don’t damage the coral reef here,” he says, during a talk with Chinese residents on a recent visit to the Maldives, adding, “Eat less instant noodles and more local seafood,” China News Service agency reports.
Xi’s comments were apparently aimed at the more than 400,000 Chinese tourists expected to go to the Maldives this year, who have developed a reputation for eating food brought from home rather than trying the local cuisine. Last year, the South China Morning Post reported that a number of luxury resorts in the Maldives had even began limiting the hot water available to Chinese tourists, in a bid to stop them from eating instant noodles instead of room service.
Last year, Chinese vice-premier Wang Yang expressed concern that the “uncivilised behaviour” of some Chinese tourists was harming the country’s image overseas. Soon after that, the China National Tourism Administration published a special Guidebook to Civilised Tourism with an extensive list of dos and don’ts. China Daily writes that habits such as clearing throats loudly, jumping queues, taking off shoes on planes and trains, squatting and smoking in public places could earn tourists a bad reputation.
According to the World Instant Noodle Association, Chinese consumers ate more than 46 billion packets of noodles last year, more than 43 percent of the total consumed worldwide.