TAIPEI—The Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently published the 2007 edition of the “Guide to China's Consular Protection and Services Overseas.” In this guide one of the advices for Chinese people traveling abroad involves how to behave properly in public. Noticing this advice, Chinese mainland media moan about the loss of general etiquette in a country that had been the most civilized nation in the world for thousands of years.
In the guide, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs reminds Chinese citizens to refrain from speaking loudly in public areas, to avoid public attention, and not to involve themselves in quarrels in public.
Yanzhao Evening Paper in Shijiazhuang City, capital city of Hebei Province, published an article commenting on these suggestions, pointing out that lacking good manners and basic etiquette education, Chinese tourists have given the world a terrible public image.
The article listed some of the typical bad manners of Chinese tourists, such as not arriving on time, speaking loudly, spitting, littering, and being rude.
The article also quoted a recent poll of 1,500 European hotel managers in which the Japanese were ranked first as the world's best tourists, while the Chinese came in the third worst tourist in the world.
“Is that so hard for Chinese people to be polite and well-behaved that we need the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to teach us basic manners,” asked the author with reproach, “especially for those who are rich enough to be able to afford traveling abroad?”
The article also cited classical pieces to emphasize that China was once a nation with Confucian culture upholding etiquette as a major part of traditional Chinese virtue. The profound culture had an extensive influence in Asia and shaped the cultures of many Asian countries.
Unfortunately, the article sadly admits that culture has been forgotten in China, while Chinese traditional virtues such as mutual respect, ethical harmony and etiquette survived in Asian countries like South Korean and Japan where they have become fundamental social values.
The article stressed that to improve the image of Chinese people, China should enhance etiquette education. The author reminds readers, “If a person spits everywhere, talks loudly and disregards other people's feelings, even though he may have received education, he is still considered as uncultured or socially unpolished, and lacking overall quality.”