I’m currently based in Bangkok and I wasn’t surprised to read in a local newspaper about another Chinese mainlander causing an uproar here due to his bad behavior in northern Thailand.
Mainlanders, especially those traveling in bus loads, are becoming quite infamous for it in the Kingdom.
For the last couple of years they’ve been the biggest number of tourists to Thailand (i.e. 4.6 million visited in 2014) but they’re testing the patience of lot of people as you can see in the above video by Channel 4.
The report in the newspaper that I read was about a mainlander who kung-fu kicked a bell in a revered Buddhist temple in northern Thailand.
A video of the act was posted anonymously online earlier this week and it went viral, causing an uproar to the extent that the Thai police say they’re now searching for the individual.
If you know anything about how the Thais regard feet and where not to put them and about how they value Buddhism, then you’ll understand how sensitive of an issue this is.
“Disgusting PRC*. Ban and deport them … NOW!” wrote a Thai netizen about the incident on the Facebook page of a local media.
We have to presume the kicker missed out on getting one of the Thai government’s etiquette manuals recently printed for mainland tourists to help them avoid offensive behavior such as:
- Relieving themselves in public
- Bad driving
- Vandalizing and dirtying public spaces
- Disrespecting local customs
And stuff like this–
This isn’t about race though.
A decent part of the population in Thailand have Chinese heritage, especially in Bangkok and they cringe also at the antics of the mainlanders.
Their complaints are similar to – but not as dire as – those we hear coming from Hong Kongers who are obviously also of Chinese heritage. As are many of the people in Singapore, Taiwan and Malaysia.
“This bloody PRC is a disgrace to China! Hope the Thai people understand not all Chinese are from China,” wrote William Sng from Singapore about the bell kicking on the Facebook page already mentioned.
“I agree. I’m a Hongkonger will not do such a disgraceful thing, we respect the Buddha in Thailand,” wrote Mandy Cheung in reply.
Shanna Hu, a Taiwanese woman now living in the U.S. said that: “This is ridiculous and sad. Whether you want to admit it or not, we are all Chinese and came from the same origin. The main cultural difference is due to government influence through the years. Instead of pointing fingers at one another, you should blame the influences and do something about it.”
Building upon what Shanna said, David KH Chan from Malaysia summed up why he thinks mainlanders act so poorly in another Facebook thread.
“This is the result of decades of communism and what it can do to people. They have no morals,” David wrote.
“I am of Chinese descent myself. What these mainland Chinese did put the entire 10,000 years of Chinese ancestry into utter shame,” he added.
And therein lies the crux of the matter.
Through its oppressive rule and various political movements, such as the Cultural Revolution, the ruling communists in China have done their utmost to destroy civil society and the country’s very rich traditional culture. They have also overseen the country’s environmental ruin and have made China into a brutal police state that is distrusted by its neighbors.
“Mainland Chinese are the least cultured people and you have to thank their communist government for that,” wrote U.S. based Topden Tsering (a Tibetan name) on Facebook about the mainland tourist issue.
“A country that draws legitimacy from illegal occupation of other countries and wanton suppression of democratic aspirations of its people will only beget a people with zero empathy for others”.
Until China reemerges as a civil society with a government that provides its citizens with basic rights, we can’t expect improvements from mainland tourists anytime soon. A once proud people are pretty much now looked down upon by much of the world.
At the same time there is hope. Buckets of it. Real traditional Chinese culture has survived, mostly outside of China and it’s universally admired. It offers people an insight into what China was really about and what it could again become in the future.
PRC* = People’s Republic of China