When in Rome, do as the Romans do. When in Hong Kong, do as Hong Kong people do.
That’s the latest message from China’s official Xinhua news agency, which recently issued an article that listed “Six Guidelines and Six Taboos” for mainland tourists visiting Hong Kong. Among the advice they offered was to avoid spitting, talking too loudly and haggling to an excessive degree.
From stealing hotel furniture to drawing graffiti on a 3,500-year-old Egyptian temple, complaints about the behavior of Chinese tourists are hardly new. Frustrations over badly-behaved mainland tourists are particularly rife in Hong Kong, which in recent years has increasingly grown to resent the crowds that annually visit the former British colony, a place that prides itself on public order and cleanliness.
But tensions recently reached a boiling point, when an episode involving a mainland Chinese child peeing in the street touched off fierce local anger, to the point that Xinhua evidently also felt the need to weigh in. (So did others: a guide for Chinese tourists on how to find Hong Kong toilets also recently hit the Internet.)
“Doing as the Romans do in Rome is especially important now,” Xinhua’s article ran. “It shows respect to Hong Kong compatriots, and also protects mainland tourists themselves.” After the April peeing incident, the child’s parents were arrested by local police after getting involved in a dispute with locals angered by the incident.
“The majority of Hong Kong people believe that one should stay out of the way of others,” Xinhua wrote, adding that Hong Kong is a crowded metropolitan city. The agency also suggested the mainland tourists moderate the volume of their voice to a level at which “your audience can listen.”
Xinhua suggested that mainland tourists try to avoid talking loudly or hailing others noisily from a distance. ”Perhaps such behavior isn’t a problem in the culture on the mainland. But you rarely see this in Hong Kong,” it said, noting that Hong Kong residents usually walk closer to the person they’re addressing instead of simply yelling at others from a far.
Here’s the full list:
Don’t block the way of other pedestrians
Keep your voice down
Don’t push other people
Avoid greeting people loudly from a distance
Treat service staff politely
Avoid excessive price bargaining
Don’t drink and eat on the MTR or public vehicles
Don’t smoke in non-smoking areas
Don’t litter or spit
Don’t cross the road when there’s a red light
Don’t sneak into first-class train carriages without paying for a ticket
Don’t forget to wear seatbelt in taxis.
By Chester Yung
Wall Street Journal /May 12, 2014