Spitting and slurping never won anybody friends. But Chinese authorities are so concerned that such vulgarities are ruining its international image that they have ordered traveling countrymen to watch their manners when overseas. The warning, relayed by the state-run Xinhua news agency, comes amid a surge in the number of Chinese traveling abroad -- and complaints about their behavior.
"Spitting, slurping food and jumping queues merely disgusts people at home, but it is intolerable in other countries," said a Xinhua report on Friday.
"The increasing number of Chinese traveling abroad may be a huge new source of income to destination countries but won't prevent complaints against individuals from reflecting badly on all of China," it said.
The loudest criticism has come from the overseas Chinese community, many of whom consider themselves more refined than those from China.
The agency said mainland tourists had been hounded by hotel staff in Singapore for spitting in their rooms, and admonished by airlines, who say their chattering irritates other passengers.
In Hong Kong, the media complain of mainlanders spitting, lighting up in no-smoking areas and displaying a general lack of courtesy. After the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland last year, many locals were upset by a newspaper picture of a mainland mother allowing her child to urinate against a wall in the amusement park.
Such complaints embarrass the government in Beijing, which is trying to reclaim China's ancient reputation as one of the world's great civilizations.
In the past six years, the number of Chinese traveling overseas has more than doubled. A record 120 million trips are estimated to have been made in China and abroad by tourists this past week.