Chinese tourists warned over behaviour abroad

Chinese tourists in Paju, north of Seoul, South Korea. April 2013 More Chinese are travelling abroad than ever before

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A senior Chinese Communist Party official has called for Chinese tourists to behave more politely when travelling abroad.

Wang Yang, one of China's four vice-premiers, said the "uncivilised behaviour" of some Chinese tourists was harming the country's image.

Among problems he singled out were talking loudly in public and spitting.

However, the BBC's Celia Hatton in Beijing says some Chinese complain they are treated badly abroad.

Foreign travel is becoming ever more popular among China's increasingly affluent citizens.

Analysis

Chinese people make an estimated 83 million trips outside China every year, so it is not a surprise that a minority sometimes clash with their foreign hosts.

Just a few years ago only the richest people in China could afford to travel abroad but now millions of people from China's second- and third-tier cities are applying for passports in order to gain their first glimpse of the outside world.

However, many in China also complain they are treated like second-class citizens abroad. Chinese internet forums were flooded with protests earlier this year when news emerged that a hotel in the Maldives had removed kettles from rooms occupied by Chinese tourists.

Apparently, the hotel's manager was upset that some Chinese tourists were using boiling water to eat instant noodles in their rooms, instead of spending money in the hotel's restaurants.

Still, there's little chance that the occasional clash between Chinese tourists and the outside world will stop China's booming tourism industry.

Chinese tourists spent $102bn (£67bn) overseas last year, up 40% on the year before, and the UN World Tourism Organisation says China is now the single biggest source of global tourism income.

Mr Wang's words were published on the website of the People's Daily, the Chinese Communist Party's main newspaper.

"Improving the civilised quality of the citizens and building a good image of Chinese tourists are the obligations of governments at all levels and relevant agencies and companies," he said.

Mr Wang advised authorities to "guide tourists to conscientiously abide by public order and social ethics, respect local religious beliefs and customs, mind their speech and behaviour... and protect the environment".

Mr Wang's criticism has brought a mixed response on Weibo, China's version of Twitter, our correspondent reports.

"It's time to send a warning to ourselves," one user posted. "As Chinese people get richer, our behaviour gets worse."

However, others argue that a senior member of the Communist Party - which is dealing with a raft of corruption scandals - is not in a position to judge the behaviour of others.

Many in China say they are treated like second-class citizens when they travel abroad and local media is full of stories of Chinese tourists who have been robbed, our correspondent adds.

Earlier this year, officials in China's eastern province of Jiangsu warned citizens against carrying large amounts of money with them or flashing expensive jewellery.

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