Chinese boy’s Egyptian temple graffiti signals lack of values at home [People’s Daily]

Chinese tend to categorically blame bad behavior on poor upbringing by parents. However, the simplistic headline ignores such factors as China’s long-time global isolation, deeply-ingrained ‘backwards’ etiquette and signal failures of the educational system.

I also love the quote: “…[S]ome tourists have been behaving in a way that compromises China’s image abroad, for instance by talking loudly in public, spitting, or leaving graffiti. That’s true, though I do not believe these people are compromising Chinese image, since our compatriots are not behaving much better at home…” I see mass displays of these obnoxious habits in Chinese society daily, I’m heartened that Chinese people are aware that these manners, or lack thereof, are too gross. – Zuo Shou

By Wan Lixin (Shanghai Daily)

May 28, 2013

We can say many things against cyber technology, but occasionally it also affords us the satisfaction of publicly lynching – in moral terms – a wrongdoer.

Such wrongdoing would never be noticed or deterred through conventional means.

The latest victim is a student in Nanjing, Jiangsu Province.

On May 6, a Chinese tourist surnamed Shen spotted graffiti – “Ding Jinhao was here” – written on a relief at the Temple of Luxor in Egyt, one of the ancient world’s great achievements and a popular tourist site.

Shen was ashamed of his compatriots, apologized to his Egyptian tour guide and posted the picture of the vandalism online.

An online manhunt ensued and the culprit was quickly identified as a 14-year-old student in Nanjing (“Schoolboy’s Egyptian temple shame” ).

The parents apologized, and asked that the child should be spared as a minor.

But if the child can be spared, his parents should spend some time reflecting on how they have brought up their child. Do they believe moral indoctrination is more important than scores?

Some Internet users took revenge against the primary school from which Ding had graduated, by hacking into the school website.

– Education failure –

In theory, both the parents and the boy’s alma mater should be held responsible for this blatant act of damage to public property.

But when Wang Jing, an official from Nanjing Education Bureau, was asked to comment, he put this down as an isolated event.

“I think this should be blamed on family education, for family education is very important, and school education is just part of education,” Wang said.

That’s a very diplomatic response.

This instance shows our families and schools have failed to deliver to the children something that should be expected first and foremost of any education: moral principles and civic virtues.

Therefore it is unfair to make one family, or a 14-year-old minor, the scapegoat for a disease that plagues the whole nation.

This scandal is yet another opportunity for national soul searching.

As we know, the Chinese people have not presented a flattering picture overseas.

A few years ago, when Chinese tourists were first seen in overseas tourist destinations, they were often mistaken for Japanese, and I do not know how many of them feel genuinely hurt by that misidentification.

Once on a Turkish airline, I was sitting among many Chinese workers going home from Egypt for the Spring Festival. When one fellow returned from the toilet, a flight attendant rushed behind him and asked in broken Chinese, “Did you smoke in the toilet?”

The worker, of course, vigorously and rudely denied [it?].

A colleague of mine, recently returned from a European trip, said that at the entrance to the Cathedral of Notre Dame in Paris there is a sign in English and Chinese (but no other) warning against taking pictures of the exhibits.

Sometimes the warning are written only in Chinese: “Please do not speak loudly!” “Please stand in line!” and “Please do not take this away!”

At a recent conference, a senior official pointed out that as more and more Chinese vacation overseas, some tourists have been behaving in a way that compromises China’s image abroad, for instance by talking loudly in public, spitting, or leaving graffiti.

That’s true, though I do not believe these people are compromising Chinese image, since our compatriots are not behaving much better at home.

Julia Hollingsworth, a New Zealand reporter who had been working with Shanghai Daily recently as an intern, mentioned her “truly horrible” experience of visiting Yuyuan Garden on a public holiday in an article (“Kiwi reflects on startling Shanghai contrasts,” May 21, Shanghai Daily).

“The crowds full of people spitting, shop owners selling tacky toys and tourists taking photos of me became too much, and I ended up aborting my adventure,” she wrote.

– Corrupted by wealth –

Some people blame bad behavior on the sudden growth in Chinese wealth, but the real problem may lie in the fact that the increased wealth seems to favor particularly the unscrupulous and the reckless, notably real estate developers, coal mines bosses, or officials.

This new way of acquiring wealth is very misleading to young people who normally should be confident, aspiring, and vigorous.

There is ongoing media and online discussion that young people born in the 1980s tend to be very muqi chenchen, or lethargic and lifeless. Why?

In one of many surveys, around 77 percent of the young respondents said they felt troubled by the stress of making a living, and, not surprisingly, they overwhelmingly cited soaring housing prices.

For a long time China’s housing prices have been hovering at a level that mocks honest work.

When a young man or woman is confronted with such confusing signals, families and educators in general have a hard time persuading the young people about the value of honest work, or respect for public property.

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