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China Wants Its Tourists to Mind Their Manners

Tourists pose in front of a bronze statue of the late Kung Fu legend Bruce Lee on the waterfront facing Hong Kong island July 12, 2013.
China’s government says its image is suffering abroad - because of Chinese tourists. State coverage of China’s national holiday highlighted domestic tourists defacing national monuments in Beijing, and the government has issued a lengthy list of rules for Chinese traveling overseas.

China’s 64-page Guidebook for Civilized Tourism includes advice with illustrations. Among other things, it admonishes Chinese travelers to keep their nose hair trimmed, not pick their nose in public or leave footprints on public toilet seats.

For 15-year-old Kachina Xu, the guidelines are welcome. She just returned home to Beijing from a vacation in Provence, France, with her family.

"The Chinese tourists were fighting over the best camera spot, which was a disgrace because it was on the news, and they were fighting and the police came," said Kachina.

She calls most of her countrymen who travel abroad a disgrace to China. "It makes me feel ashamed, like they are losing face for the Chinese."

China’s Vice Premier Wang Yang agrees. Earlier this year, he said the country’s image is being damaged by what he called the uncivilized behavior of Chinese travelers.

Even in nearby Hong Kong, residents are struggling to deal with the influx of mainland tourists. A manager of a local travel agency, who wished to remain anonymous, described the behavior of some visitors from the mainland.

"They want to push through the lines to get that LV bag, or get into the train first. In China if you've been closed off, and not been able to travel, and then you come into some fortune, and you now have the visas to travel out. It's all eye candy for them," said the manager.

Last year, 83 million Chinese traveled abroad - and spent more than people from any other country on their overseas journeys - $102 billion. The travel agency manager says that well-mannered or not, that eagerness to see the world - and spend money - means doors will remain open to Chinese tourists.

“They do bring in tourism dollars, so this is something that some retailers will put up with,” said the manager.

The United States and several European countries have recently eased visa restrictions for Chinese travelers, whose numbers are expected to double by 2018.