5 Reasons Why Chinese Tourists Are So Rude

1) Scarcity and lawlessness in their country has resulted in the need to prioritize one’s interest to survive

One of the main reason why Chinese tourists have earned a bad reputation is due to their self-centered and lawless ways, disregarding the regulations of other countries.

Some common examples of such behaviors include actions like cutting queues; pushing other tourists; taking photos with flash when it is prohibited; or kicking up a big fuss over small things.

What makes people to “put their own interest and survival first at all times”?

The first reason is due to the scarcity and immense competition which exists in the country. There has been a looooooooong recent history of 150 years of non-stop violence and political and social chaos. Things in China have only started to stabilize in the recent decades.

This is the long list of bullshit the poor Chinese people had to endure

1839 – Opium War
1842 – Treaty of Nanjing and end of Opium War, Losing HK to British Powers 南京條約
1894 -Japanese invasion 甲午戰爭
1899 – Boxer Rebellion 义和团运动
1911 -End of Qing Dynasty (清朝). Sun Yat Sen (孫逸仙) founded democractic China
1916 -Warlord Era 軍閥時代
1927 – Nanchang Uprising 南昌起義 and CHinese Civil War 国共内战
1937 – Japanese Occupation 八年抗戰
1958 – Great Leap forward 大跃进
1959 – Great Chinese Famine (三年大饑荒)
1966 – 1976 -Cultural Revolution (無產階級文化大革命) and Down to the Countryside Movement (上山下乡运动)
1989- Tianamen Incident 六四事件

For many Chinese, it’s not a distant past when they lived their lives in scarcity every single day. So, whenever there’s a little bit trace of a shortage, their survival mode is on.

This poverty and instability was worsened by the breakdown in social order from 1967 to 1976. In a communist society, there cannot be religion or anything that is above the state. As a result of the Cultural Revolution (無產階級文化大革命), people spied on each other, were sent off to work camps, children turned on parents, students turned on teachers etc. There was a lot of distrust in society and people competed for everything.

Public humiliation and beatings for those who were deemed unfaithful to the ideology. Photo credit: Li Zhengsheng
These days, China is richer and stable, things have improved. However, attitudes remain. Furthermore, their society is even more competitive than before. Population has grown to be so huge and there are hardly sufficient for everyone.

In fact, over one-third of students taking “gao kao” (Their version of our GCE A levels) reported having psychosomatic symptoms at least once a week. (You can read all about their education system here).

Just like how competitiveness in Singapore has led to the whole ugly kiasu culture which we have here, I believe that in a society like China, the social impact would be more worse.

Besides scarcity and competition for resources, another factor would be the fact that in many parts of China, things like rule-of-law doesn’t really exist. Corruption is rife. This is according to Yong Chen, tourism researcher and post-doctoral fellow at Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

Besides having to look out for oneself to ensure one’s survival, the lack of rule-of-law and corruption also means people have little or no respect for laws. This is bound to happen when ordinary people in China are forced to watch their rights and laws being violated every day by their leaders, Chen said, citing the Chinese idiom, 上行下效, meaning that “people in lower class follow what their leaders in the upper class do”.

When I was younger, I visited my uncle and his family in Beijing. We went to a restaurant to dine. Then the waitress forgot to bring us water even though we requested for it a few times. My uncle kicked a huge fuss over it to the extent to berating a few waitresses and the manager.

I felt it was rather strange and unbecoming given that it wasn’t a very bad mistake and that my uncle was a good tempered man. Later on, my father explained to me that it was China’s style of doing things and if you show weaknesses and all, you would get taken advantage of.

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