As reported by Associated Press (AP), a Chinese teenager who defaced an ancient temple in Egypt with graffiti has come under major criticism at home in China. The public as well as press have widely criticized and commented on the incident while emphasizing that the Chinese need to cultivate a good image overseas as more Chinese travel abroad.
The teen scratched “Ding Jinhao visited here” in Chinese on a temple wall in the ancient city of Luxor. The world found out about the incident as another Chinese tourist posted a photo of it on a popular microblog with the comment: “My saddest moment in Egypt. Ashamed and unable to show my face.” as reported by AP.
Many criticized Ding’s act as an embarrassment to the country and even the People’s Daily, which is a government sponsored paper echoed on the sentiments and criticisms. The outcry prompted Ding’s parents to publicly apologize.
The most interesting comment came from a well known and prominent journalist with Shanghai Television, who wrote on his microblog: “Why there are so many citizens who go abroad and humiliate us? How many generations will it take to change this kind of behavior?”
This incident happened as Chinese tourism overseas has seen an explosion in growth over the past decade, fueled by rising incomes and the relaxation of government restrictions on citizens’ ability to travel abroad. China is now ranked the fastest-growing source of international tourists in the world according to the U.N.’s World Tourism Organization. The organization said the volume of international trips by Chinese tourists has grown from 10 million in 2000 to 83 million in 2012 and most importantly this accompanies a nearly eightfold increase in spending.
What is most impressive in terms of economic impact and spending in those countries that are the destinations for Chinese tourists is that China also surpassed Germany to become the largest spender in international tourism, with tourists’ expenditure amounting to a record $102 billion. However, Chinese tourists, who mostly travel with tour groups, are frequently criticized for rude behavior.
Officials in Egypt have reported that the graffiti has now been removed and the wall has been cleaned and restored to the original condition.
As reported by BBC earlier this month, a heavily armed gang has killed an unknown number of elephants at a world heritage site in the Central African Republic. According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF), the ivory poachers were seen using a scientist’s observation platform to shoot the animals, which gather there in large numbers. Up to 200 elephants are said to gather daily in one location to drink mineral salts present in the sands.
The site is in the Dzanga-Ndoki Park which is located in the south-western corner of the Central African Republic (CAR), where it borders Cameroon and the Republic of Congo. It is described as a unique habitat for forest elephants in particular.
WWF issued a warning that a group of 17 individuals, some armed with heavy-calibre rifles, had entered the park and was heading for the Dzanga-bai, an area known locally as the “village of elephants”. It is believed that the raiders were Sudanese ivory poachers who have been trying to operate in the area and are now taking advantage of the lawless state of the country.
The elephant raid has also alarmed international conservation authorities. African countries have seen a serious spike in the illegal killing of elephants because of the high demand for ivory especially from China which is now at the highest level in 16 years.
Earlier this year (March, 2013) the Thai prime minister promised to outlaw Thailand’s domestic ivory trade. Yingluck Shinawatra’s announcement at the opening of wildlife trade meeting, Cites in Bangkok, came as African elephants are once again in danger of extinction. During the Cites meeting, a video address from the Duke of Cambridge, Prince William, appealing to nearly 200 governments, to tackle the illegal wildlife trade was shown.
It has been reported that more than half of ivory on the streets of China is illegal, and that is in spite of reports that the government of China is trying to control the illegal trade. However, China is more and more under pressure and scrutiny. Guardian reported that in 2011 more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested across Africa and according to the Kenya Wildlife Service, 90% of ivory seized at Kenya’s airports involves Chinese citizens.