With photos of people doing unsightly things on public transport and reports of cockroaches floating in smoothies, it’s true that China hasn’t been painted in the best light recently. However, an incident occurring in Egypt has caused outrage both at home and abroad after it was discovered that a Chinese tourist had scrawled a message on a wall in an ancient Egyptian temple.

On May 24, a Chinese tourist in Egypt posted a message online expressing anger and disgust at something that he had stumbled upon during his visit. The post was entitled “The most saddening thing about my trip to Egypt”.

Within the post was a photo of an ancient relief that can be found in the 3,000-year-old Luxor Temple. Among its intricate carvings, however, someone had etched a message in Chinese characters, reading “… 到此一遊”.

In English, the characters translate as “visited here” or “was here”; a stereotypical message no-doubt scribbled on thousands of surfaces across the globe. We’re sure it goes without saying, though, that whether you’re a master of the Chinese language or not, this message was an idiotic and unwelcome recent addition.

Upon seeing this, the Chinese tourist who uploaded the photo describes how he immediately felt pangs of shame and tried to erase the offensive scrawl:

“Being Chinese, I feel ashamed to be associated with this type of person. I wondered if I could remove the characters by scrubbing them off with tissue. But it was no good. The characters wouldn’t budge.”

Enraged by the incident, the internet community commented that it was “the disgrace of China.” Some netizens even got together and organized a DNA investigation to establish the culprit’s identity. As a result, just several hours after the photo was released, the perpetrator’s details were leaked online for all to see, with the offender being identified as a 15-year-old male school student from Nanjing, China. Before long, even the young man’s date of birth, registered school class and year of graduation from elementary school were also published online.

The parents of the child were reduced to tears following the publication of their son’s personal information and the resulting backlash, ultimately coming forward to make a full public apology:

“Our child was always rebellious from an early age. However, we often turned a blind eye to his behavior and this is what happens as a result. As parents, we are clearly to blame. If only we’d paid closer attention to what our child was doing while in Egypt.”

According to an expert on tourist behavior, the way we behave abroad can have a profound impact on the way we are perceived on the world stage:

“Even if the tourists behaving irresponsibly are in the minority, once the news makes into the media, there is the strong tendency to view everyone from that country in the same light. In this sense, it can be seriously damaging.”

Regardless of nationality, when abroad it can’t hurt to be on your very best behavior. After all, whether we like it or not, we are all to some degree representatives of our respective countries, and people can be quick to judge and tar us all with the same brush,
[ Read in Japanese ]