The virtues of courage and curiosity are deeply rooted in Chinese culture and flourish in the oft-heard claim that China is home to the world’s bravest people. And that boast can prompt extreme behaviour, especially when inhibitions are loosened by new surroundings and a holiday mood. Recent news reports document the ongoing Chinese obsession with claiming victory from the God of Death – and the many who have lost their lives trying.
Recently, three visitors nearly became tiger food at Changsha Ecological Zoo in China’s Hunan province.
The trio, two women and a man in their 60s, decided to avoid the price of admission by creeping into the zoo from the back. They destroyed a fence and jumped into the zoo compound – only to find themselves face to face with seven Bengal tigers in the open safari. Luckily the trespassers had been spotted by security, who rushed to their rescue. They had saved 130 yuan (Bt650) each on tickets but nearly lost their lives.
The zoo’s astonished security chief, Zhang Bin, said tourists were only allowed to tour the safari on a bus provided by the zoo. “No one is allowed to go out there,” he added, emphasising that that the trio had ignored danger notices.
Other recent bouts with Mother Nature haven’t ended so well. In January a visitor climbed into a tiger enclosure to “play with the big cat” at Youngor Zoo in the city of Ningbo. The predator was only too eager to comply, dragging its human playmate further into the park before mauling him to death.
Another high-profile incident saw two women jump out of their car while touring Badaling Wildlife World in Beijing. Both were pounced upon by Siberian tigers. One of them died on the spot.
Such behaviour may be partly explained by the widespread belief in China that “anything is possible” if you refuse to surrender to the challenge ahead.
Last week, a Chinese teenager plunged into heavy seas off Kamala Beach on Phuket and failed to make it back to shore.
The 18-year-old and two friends had ignored warnings the sea was too rough and been overwhelmed by a monster wave. Two of the party were rescued by lifeguards, but the teen’s body washed up on the beach the following day.
A day before the incident, four female Chinese tourists on the same beach narrowly avoided the same fate after ignoring the red flag warning.
Dozens of Chinese visitors have drowned in the seas of Thailand.
How many were thrill-seekers out to challenge Mother Nature is unknown. Whatever the number, what’s certain is that they also placed the lives of their would-be rescuers in jeopardy.
Another Chinese virtue that has revealed its deadly side in this fast-developing society is curiosity.
Last Tuesday a female passenger activated the emergency inflatable slide just before a jetliner was about to take off at Beijing International Airport.
The woman was seated next to the emergency exit and, after being told that the lever should only be used in an emergency, wanted to see what would happen if she pulled it.
Her act stunned other passengers and the Xiamen Airlines flight, bound for Xiamen in Fujian province, was promptly cancelled.
She was detained for 12 days and faces a huge fine and compensation payment for the 113 fellow passengers whose flights had to be rebooked.
Netizens joked that the woman had conducted one of China’s most expensive experiments. Whatever her motivation, her act made global headlines and added to a growing image of backwardness and incivility among the Chinese.
Chinese authorities are taking such behaviour seriously, even publishing a list of guidelines to remind citizens of the do’s and don’ts when visiting tourist destinations. The guidelines are meant to promote civilised behaviour and respect for etiquette, including punctuality, not speaking loudly, not spitting, and not littering or defacing historic treasures.
However, stories detailing the latest outrages committed by Chinese tourists will inevitably continue to flow. With more and more of China’s 1.4 billion people achieving middle-class status and the ability to travel, the rest of the world will feel the consequences. But the rise in tourist dollars will always outweigh the inconvenience.
Published : June 19, 2017
By : Beh Yuen Hui The Star Asia News Network Kuala Lumpur