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Tourists put on notice for loutish behavior in Los Angeles

By Chang Jun | China Daily USA | Updated: 2015-08-11 10:20

It's happened again - another incident of bad behavior by well-travelled Chinese. This time, however, the resulting arrests of several adults in Los Angeles on Aug 9 have caused a firestorm of debate among the overseas Chinese community.

According to postings and pictures on social media, LA police on Sunday arrested several Chinese adults from a guided bus tour because they fought so fiercely over choice seats that they injured a teenage passenger.

"Someone called 911 and we saw eight police cars chasing our bus," wrote one post on WeChat. "The police officer stopped our bus, getting onboard and making several arrests after identifying who had punched the boy in the face and caused his injury and bleeding."

Several pictures taken on the scene showed a few women and men, handcuffed and being escorted by officers to police cars.

Chinese tourists made 109 million trips overseas in 2014, a 20 percent increase over 2013. They also contribute more to the world tourism industry than any other nation when it comes to big-ticket purchases and consumption.

Probably more frequently than any other ethnic group, Chinese travelers are also making enduring headlines that are leading to a stereotype - deep-pocketed tourists with loud voices and appalling apparel who demonstrate a lack of cultural sensitivity and are inclined to ignore local laws and regulations, not to mention common courtesy.

Many, including me, can't help but ask: Why has the education system in the world's second-largest economy failed so badly that it keeps producing indecent, rowdy and unruly citizens who too often leave unfavorable impressions in host countries, casting a shadow on the image of the Chinese people as a whole.

Two years ago in an ancient temple in Luxor, Egypt, a 15-year-old Chinese tourist was caught carving his name into stone bas reliefs and literally destroyed the relic.

In tropical waters around the globe, Chinese travelers have been captured in negative media reports killing marine wildlife, tromping starfish and littering seashores.

On a Bangkok-Beijing flight last December, travelers Wang Sheng and Zhang Yan splashed hot instant noodles on a flight attendant and threatened to blow up the plane if they were not immediately given the seats they wanted. Their insane behavior forced the pilot to make a U-turn back to Thailand, where police were waiting.

In July, six tourists from the Chinese mainland were arrested at Hong Kong International Airport for assaulting airport staff because of a six-hour delay of their flight to Beijing. One of the passengers tried to force her way onto an airplane and the other five upset passengers and got physical with airport staff. During the chaos, three male and four female crew members were injured and had to be hospitalized.

The same month, a Chinese passenger was detained after he allegedly assaulted a China Southern Airlines cabin crew member on a flight to Los Angeles. The man was accused of attacking and threatening a male flight attendant by hitting and yelling at him over a seat. After the plane landed in LA, police detained the man and referred his case to the FBI.

"I applaud what the American cops did to those who misbehaved," said Guo Wennan of Cupertino. "They are teaching the arrogant and ignorant a life lesson - the hard way."

Worried that Chinese travelers' behavior will further tarnish the nation's reputation abroad, Chinese authorities have responded with a draft of regulations that took effect in May aimed at keeping loutish Chinese travelers in check.

The uncivilized tourists, as described in the regulations, might be put onto a national blacklist database. Based on the severity of their aberrant behavior, their credit rating could be affected and they might even be deprived of the privilege of traveling abroad.

Shino Wang, a reception manager with a five-star hotel in San Francisco, said more mandatory etiquette classes should be given to help familiarize affluent Chinese with Western manners.

"Let them learn about concepts such as personal space, privacy and waiting your turn," said Wang. "The more they are exposed to these Western norms, the more appropriately they will behave."

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