Chinese citizens may already be getting rich enough to afford international overseas trips and visits, but wealth is by no means a safeguard to conduct misbehaviour in other lands. Ding Jinhao, a lucky Chinese teener who had the opportunity to visit and personally see for himself the famed centuries-old Luxor Temple, has gotten the ire of Chinese netizens after he desecrated and vandalized the Egyptian artwork a few years back.
"Ding Jinhao was here." Most tourists would write their names on anything visible, signifying a gesture that they have been to the place, and mostly to brag or show off. A fellow Chinese tourist named Shen Yuwen, who saw the smear on a visit to the ruins on May 6, immediately took a photograph, uploaded on social networking service Sina Weibo, in the hopes to trace the culprit.
Situated on the bank of the Nile, Luxor Temple is home to a large temple complex, built by Amenhotep III, who lived in the 14th Century BC, and later by Ramesses II.
Mr Shen even said he attempted to wipe off with a tissue the markings but it was way too imprinted, because Ding had carved his graffiti. But most of all, Mr Shen felt shamed over what he saw, knowing fully well it would be reflective of the Chinese people.
Immediately after the photo was uploaded, more than 100,000 net users commented, not to congratulate Ding for his lucky streak but to condemn his uncivilised behaviour.
"It is a sick cultural habit to damage relics for the sake of one's own emotions," user 'luowei' said on Sina Weibo.
A search to trace the vandaliser ensued. Internet users hunted down 15-year-old Ding who hails from Nanjing, in east China's Jiangsu Province. Netizens even hacked the Web site of his school. Ding, who in a moment of emotional joy made the show off smear on the 3,500-year-old Egyptian artwork, "cried all night" because he could no longer take in the cyber-attacks.
His parents, admitting they failed to properly educate and supervise him, had issued a public apology.
"We want to apologise to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China," the boy's mother told Nanjing's Modern Express newspaper over the weekend.
"We have taken him sightseeing since he was little and we often saw such graffiti," she said. At that time, Ding was still a young boy and they were with a tourist group.
"We didn't realise we should have told him that this is wrong," she added.
Leaving graffiti "is a test paper of national civilization," according to Sina Weibo user 'yejianming5201314'.
"This incident is not just about the problem of one person but has everything to do with national quality," one Sina Weibo user wrote.
"People must die if they lose face for the nation," another said.
And unfortunately, Chinese tourists are known for this uncivilised behaviour, leaving graffiti everywhere, to the point of damaging historic sites. Essentially, such behaviour is reflective of poor education.
"The image of a country is a collective reflection of its citizens," Zhou Xiaoping, an official with the Jiangsu Provincial Tourism Administration said, as reported by Xinhua News. "If Chinese nationals reduce their acts of graffiti or spitting, for example, the image of China will also be improved."
Ironically, under China's cultural relic protection law, anyone found guilty of marking their relics with graffiti can be warned or fined. Either this is being poorly implemented, or the Chinese people just put their angsts somewhere.
No Damage Done
Good thing that the graffiti done to the centuries-old Luxor Temple was only minimal, at least according to Egypt's Ministry of Antiquities. The country has started taking measures to restore it.
According to the UN World Tourism Organisation, China is now the single biggest source of global tourism income. In 2012 alone, Chinese tourists spent $102bn on overseas trips, up by 40 per cent a year ago.
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