Date
24 June 2018
Some cash-flush Chinese travelers expect immediate intervention by “the mighty motherland” and kick up a big fuss even over the most minor inconveniences such as flight delays or cancellations. Photo: news.cn
Some cash-flush Chinese travelers expect immediate intervention by “the mighty motherland” and kick up a big fuss even over the most minor inconveniences such as flight delays or cancellations. Photo: news.cn

Beijing to blame for bad behavior of some Chinese tourists

Last year, Wolf Warriors 2, the monster blockbuster starring martial arts sensation Wu Jing, took the entire mainland by storm and became a huge sensation among Chinese moviegoers.

The most talked about scene in the movie is probably the close-up of a string of words printed on a page of a mock-up Chinese passport at the end of the movie, which read: “No matter what kind of danger you have encountered overseas, do remember one thing: your mighty motherland always has your back.”

Ironically, while the movie has definitely delivered in terms of evoking ultra-patriotism among the Chinese audience, such patriotic ardor has continued to spread even long after the movie was pulled from cinemas across the country, and has begun to spin out of control so much so that state media have to take measures to curb it.

Perhaps nothing exemplifies this ultra-patriotic sentiment more than a series of hysterical and eyebrow-raising acts staged by some Chinese outbound tourists in recent months, which have grabbed headlines around the world.

On Jan. 24,  for example, 175 angry Chinese tourists who were stranded at the Narita Airport in Japan, and who had difficulty communicating with the airline, clashed with airport staff and the local police.

Amid the chaos, some of them even broke out into song, singing the Chinese national anthem as a show of protest. The incident eventually prompted the Chinese embassy in Tokyo to intervene and mediate.

Three days later, on Jan. 27, the Chinese embassy in Sri Lanka also had to intervene and coordinate with local authorities in the middle of the night when 150 Chinese passengers of a Shanghai-bound SriLankan Airlines were stranded at the Colombo international airport for eight hours due to bad weather.

And it just got worse. On the following day, a crowd of impatient Chinese travelers, who also found themselves stuck at the Tehran international airport in Iran amid the country’s worst snowstorm in 20 years, broke out into cheerful chants of “China” after staffers of the local Chinese embassy had stepped in and arranged accommodation for them.

A video clip showing these mainland tourists chanting “China” in Mandarin loudly has gone viral. It is said that some foreign tourists who were also stranded at the Tehran airport on that day were dismayed at the way the Chinese travelers behaved.

To be fair, it makes perfect sense for any Chinese tourist who has run into some serious troubles such as traffic accidents or even kidnapping when traveling in a foreign country to seek help from the local Chinese consulate or embassy.

However, it appears some cash-flush Chinese travelers expect a lot more than that, and wouldn’t hesitate for a second to demand immediate intervention by “the mighty motherland” and kick up a big fuss even over the most minor inconveniences such as flight delays or cancellations.

Such behavior of Chinese travelers would not only provoke repulsion from the local population, but also waste Beijing’s diplomatic manpower and resources.

However, it is important to point out that the Chinese authorities themselves are to blame.

In recent years, Chinese consulates and embassies in some foreign countries have continued to intervene aggressively and unnecessarily in incidents that involved Chinese tourists as a means to showcase Beijing’s growing economic and diplomatic influence.

Their high-profile intervention has, as a result, given rise to the widespread view among Chinese tourists that their country’s diplomats are duty bound to “babysit” them under all circumstances.

A recent article published on the overseas website of the People’s Daily has urged Chinese tourists to stop “self-directing and starring in their own version of Wolf Warriors 2 in other countries”.

Yet the problem is, as long as communist propaganda apparatuses are continuing to indoctrinate the mainland public with blind nationalist values, bigheaded and cash-flush Chinese travelers are unlikely to behave themselves in the days ahead.

This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on Feb 10

Translation by Alan Lee with additional reporting

[Chinese version 中文版]

– Contact us at [email protected]

CG

Hong Kong Economic Journal contributor

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