No nose-picking: Image-conscious China admonishes its ‘unruly’ tourists


Chinese tourists should not pick their noses in public, pee in pools or steal airplane life jackets, China’s image-conscious authorities have warned in a handbook in their latest effort to counter unruly behavior.

The National Tourism Administration publicized its 64-page Guidebook for Civilized Tourism, with illustrations to accompany its list of do’s and don’ts, on its website ahead of a national holiday that started Tuesday.

As Chinese tourists increasingly travel abroad, they have developed a stereotype of “uncivilized behavior” that Vice Premier Wang Yang said in May had “damaged the image of the Chinese people.”

Several countries, including debt-laden European nations, have eased visa restrictions to attract increasingly affluent Chinese tourists, but complaints about etiquette have also emerged.

A mainland Chinese woman who in February had her son relieve himself in a bottle in a crowded Hong Kong restaurant sparked an outpouring of anger online, with some locals deriding mainlanders as “locusts.”

The Chinese government has previously issued pithy guidelines telling tourists how to behave, but the latest booklet elaborated in great detail.

It warns travelers not to pick their noses in public, to keep their nose-hair neatly trimmed and, if they have to pick their teeth, never to use their fingers. It also urges them not to occupy public toilets for long periods of time or leave footprints on the toilet seat. Nor should they pee in swimming pools.

Further, travelers should not drink soup straight from the bowl or make slurping sounds when eating noodles. And after taking a flight they must leave the life jackets underneath their seats, the rule book warns, explaining that “if a dangerous situation arises, then someone else will not have a life jacket.”

A tour guide surnamed Zhang who was in Hong Kong on Tuesday said his company had given him a copy of the rules at the start of the seven-day October holiday. Before he said they had distributed a much briefer set of guidelines — which fit on a single sheet of paper.

“I feel things need to be improved,” he said, standing in a city square packed with mainland tourists. “If we bring chaos to other places, it’s our image — the Chinese image — that suffers.”

The handbook also dispensed country-specific advice: Chinese visitors to Germany should only snap their fingers to beckon dogs, not humans; women in Spain should always wear earrings in public, or else be considered effectively naked; and diners in Japan were instructed not to play with their clothes or hair during a meal.

  • 思德

    You can’t expect people to do for others what they won’t even do for themselves at home. The Forbidden City has large jars that held water to quench fires that might break out. When I was visiting, I saw a woman heave her child on top of one of these to relieve himself. There were public bathrooms in the vicinity. Frankly, that moment, if nothing else, damaged the respect I had for China, mainland Chinese in particular. The Forbidden City is like the Vatican of Chinese culture. You don’t just go ahead and relieve yourself on it. It’s one thing to relieve yourself on another culture’s history in stupidity and ignorance of its significance. It’s quite another to do so to your own. The fact that a foreigner like me had more respect for something with such a weight of history on it than a local is telling. If a foreigner did such a thing, death by a thousand cuts wouldn’t be enough for that person.