The unruly Chinese tourists seen in viral videos are only a small portion of the country’s 1.3 billion people. Most Malaysian Chinese for example would feel insulted if they are mistaken for Chinese tourists.
Many viral video recordings have portrayed mainland China tourists to be loud, noisy, rude and greedy. Some videos show them spitting and littering indiscriminately. Some videos show them quarrelling or fighting over small matters. And in many clips, they’re seen cutting queues. One video shows these tourists bulldozing their way to buffet tables and heaping food onto their dishes. However, most are unable to finish the mountain of food.
The impression Chinese tourists give may not be pleasant but branded outlets in western countries tend to welcome them with open arms. When I visited the Louis Vuitton and Chanel boutiques in Paris, almost all the customers were Chinese tourists. The shop manager took me for one of them and gave me excellent service.
It goes to show that people may not like the Chinese tourists but they do love the Chinese yuan. It is easy to label people based on quick and superficial observances. However, the reality is that most of the tourists depicted in the viral video clips we’ve seen are from rural places in China and not exposed to the outside world. Naturally, they submit to herd instincts when travelling in large groups.
It also does not help that tour guides tend to warn them that buses will leave without them if they are not punctual and that they will be stranded in a foreign land. This creates much anxiety.
I have had many pleasant encounters with locals during my trips to China, both in cities as well as suburban areas. I’ve found that most Chinese citizens are well-mannered, courteous and helpful. The younger city folk are well-educated (having studied abroad) and speak good English.
They are patriotic, hard-working, enterprising and ever willing to go the extra mile. I have yet to meet anyone there who has a despicable attitude or speaks rudely. In Beijing, I walked to a morning street market near my hotel to take a glimpse of the local lifestyle. Seeing many varieties of fruits I bought quite a lot and in fact they were too heavy for me to carry. The stall owner insisted on lugging them back to my hotel for me.
He asked his neighbour to look after his stall and left his moneybox and goods. How trusting. I doubt anyone here dares to do so. And when I offered him a tip, he flatly refused.
In a high-speed train from Shanghai to Hangzhou I chatted with a woman who was travelling with her husband and young son from a distant city for work. She said the next day was the Moon Festival and offered me a moon cake to celebrate that night.
In Urumqi in Xinjiang on the famous Silk Road I came across a Uyghur wedding dinner in a large restaurant in the Grand Bazaar. I asked the host for permission to take photos of the ceremony. Not only did he grant permission, he invited me to join the dinner and dance with the guests.
These are just a few instances that reveal the good nature of the Chinese people. We must not forget that their culture and customs have been refined over six thousand years. Its glorious past was however drained by foreign powers during the Ching Dynasty. But the nation rose again after opening up in 1978 and has become the second largest economy in the world in recent years.
Admirably, in their pursuit of success and wealth, the Chinese have not forgotten their tradition of respecting elders and teachers and treating people with courtesy. The mainland Chinese are more advanced than us. To them, credit cards are out-dated. Instead an E-wallet like Alipay is in vogue.
So the next time you see some unruly Chinese tourists, just remember they are a small number of the 1.3 billion of the cultured and prosperous Chinese population. And we have much to learn from them.