By Samantha Tan Chiew Ting
Bernama’s correspondent in China, Samantha Tan Chiew Ting shares her take on the China capital city. This week, Samantha writes on the inconsiderate behaviour many of the Chinese tourist from the mainland.
BEIJING (Bernama) — Bad manners, inconsiderate behaviour, loud and pushy… these are the words I believe used by many foreigners to describe many of the Chinese tourists that they may have come across.
There is nothing to hide about the annoying ways of some of the Chinese whether they travel abroad or domestically. Often their obnoxious ways and their actions are captured on camera and goes viral on the social media platforms.
The latest ugly side of their behaviour are kicking and climbing cherry blossom trees in Changsha and Nanjing provinces during the spring just to get good selfies.
There is nothing unusual about people shouting and yelling while talking in public areas or over the phone, jumping the queue, and jostling at subways.
There is even a joke from friends who came to visit before… they told me: “You don’t have to walk or move at all in crowded places as people will push you and you will feel like moving on a walkalator”.
Many argue the mainland Chinese speak loudly to show warmth, strength and sincerity, yet some feel the word ‘privacy’ and ‘respect’ are not in their dictionary.
The aggressive character of the Chinese is not something new. Even last year, What’s On Weibo site reported that special coaches for Chinese tourists were introduced in Switzerland as locals there considered them as ‘loud’ and ‘rude’.
In spite of their awful conduct, the Chinese with big spending power could not be ignored in the tourism industry.
It was reported by Xinhua News Agency that the spending of Chinese outbound tourists reached US$215 billion (RM840 billion) in 2015, with 120 million outbound visits and the figure is expected to grow to 200 million by 2019.
Even Malaysia has taken initiatives to boost Chinese tourist arrivals with the launch of electronic visa (e-visa) and electronic travel registration and information (ENTRI).
This was to ease visa requirements for the Chinese to visit Malaysia in order to achieve the target of drawing eight million Chinese tourists annually with a RM22.1 billion spending power over the next five years.
Are Malaysians ready welcome them?
After living among the mainland Chinese for some months now I have learnt to live with their ways, especially the cacophony that they cause in public places that initially drove me crazy.
As an expat in this fast moving economy with huge population, I have no choice but have to live with the locals. It can be quite stressful at times, but I learnt that little tolerance and understanding can really be helpful.
Meanwhile, for foreigners in China, cleanliness of public toilets and public places and their toilet culture leaves much to be desired.
Many of the foreigners will be scratching their heads asking why do the locals spit everywhere.
A tourist from Switzerland I met recently at Houhai Lake, one of a popular tourist area in Beijing, was horrified to see that some of the public toilets there have no partition and doors.
“Is all open… no doors?” said Tamara Adoff (she), 45, who was on her first visit to the capital for spring break.
However, to be fair public facilities in Beijing have improved over time to cater for the rising number of foreign tourists compared to few years back.
I remember my relatives who visited Beijing 10 years ago, they always reminded each other or friends to bring along umbrellas when visiting the capital, just to “cover” oneself while using the public toilet.
Although many public toilets nowadays come with doors, but few of the old ones remain to keep the cultural and heritage image alive especially around the hutongs or old alleys.
For foreigners, they will surely feel awkward using toilets without doors or any partition. However, for the locals it is nothing to be embarrassed about.
I even asked one of my local friends about the behaviour of the locals, especially shouting and talking with high tones in the public.
“Don’t they feel sorry for causing embarrassment?”, I asked.
Kexin (she), 28, said many foreigners misunderstand the Chinese.
According to her, talking loud could be rude for others but it is normal among the locals, adding that one of the reason is their thick accents and tones.
“As you know, there is four different tones in learning Chinese language and different tones represent different characters. If the tone is not right, the meaning could be different. So they speak with high tones,” she explained.
Different people come from different cultural background. Some actions could be rude for others but most importantly we have to manage them with tolerance and understanding to avoid misunderstanding.