Skip to main content

Netizen outrage after Chinese tourist defaces Egyptian temple

By Hiufu Wong, CNN
updated 7:09 AM EDT, Wed May 29, 2013
The graffiti was etched across the torso of the figure in the sculpture.
The graffiti was etched across the torso of the figure in the sculpture.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • An image of the graffiti when viral on weibo
  • Netizens tracked down the offender in a single day
  • Parents have told local media they take full responsibility

Read a version of this story in Arabic.

Hong Kong (CNN) -- Parents of a 15-year-old Chinese tourist have apologized after the teenager defaced a stone sculpture in an ancient Egyptian temple with graffiti.

The act drew ire in both Egypt and China -- generating a massive online backlash amongst China's unforgiving netizens.

The vandal carved 'Ding Jinhao was here' in Chinese in the 3,500 year old Luxor Temple.

This was photographed by an embarrassed Chinese traveler and shared on weibo, China's micro-blogging site on May 24.

"The saddest moment in Egypt. I'm so embarrassed that I want to hide myself. I said to the Egyptian tour guide,'I'm really sorry,'" that traveler wrote on the original weibo post.

Backlash against Chinese tourists
When will tourists return to Egypt?
Tourism takes a hit in Egypt

"We want to wipe off the marking with a towel. But we can't use water since it is a 3,500 relic."

It didn't take long -- actually, just a day -- before outraged netizens tracked down Ding in Nanjing.

Slammed online and exposed further in the mainstream, Ding's parents quickly contacted media outlets.

"We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China," Ding's mother said in a China Daily report.

Ding's parents said they shouldered the responsibility of what their son did, adding he had learned his lesson.

World's unfriendliest nations for tourists

The original weibo post was re-tweeted almost 90,000 times, received over 18,000 comments and was widely distributed across local media.

"Reading this disastrous news this morning is heartbreaking. I despise this behavior, especially in Egypt -- the place I love. Now, I just want to say 'Sorry' to Egypt," commented weibo user "Net bug jing jing."

"It's a disgrace to our entire race!" said another angry micro-blogger.

Tourism in Egypt: Hope amid slow recovery

In a state-run Xinhua media report, one of the agency's photographers said local Egyptian staff had worked to try to clean the sculpture. While there was some improvement, the graffiti could not be totally removed.

Outbound Chinese tourism has expanded rapidly in recent years. In 2012, Chinese overtook Americans and Germans as the world's top international tourism spenders, with 83 million people spending a record US$102 billion on international tourism.

That growth has brought with it a backlash in some industry sectors. (See our report on Chinese tourism: The good, the bad and the backlash)

Earlier this month, Beijing called on its nation's tourists to improve their behavior, with Vice Premier Wang Yang stating it was important to project a good image of Chinese tourists.

Chinese travelers the world's biggest spenders

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 6:01 AM EDT, Tue August 19, 2014
Photographer gives Hong Kong skyscrapers a radical new look.
updated 8:21 AM EDT, Sat August 16, 2014
A cage-free shark photographer gets up close and personal with the ocean's most feared predators.
updated 10:28 AM EDT, Fri August 15, 2014
Conde Nast Traveler reader survey praises antipodean cities but gives South Africa's biggest city a wide berth.
updated 9:22 PM EDT, Thu August 14, 2014
After the 100th anniversary of the opening of the Canal, here are 10 other ways to fall in love with the country.
updated 11:49 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
In Taiwan, tourists pay to ride along in local cabs, letting fate -- and locals fares -- decide where they'll go.
updated 4:48 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
It's largely devoid of human life, dark, cold and subject to dangerous levels of geological volatility -- the Arctic is surely the worst possible destination for an arts festival.
Zurich, Switzerland
It may be Switzerland's banking capital, but Zurich's real wealth lies in the village-like charm of its cobbled streets and Alpine scenery.
updated 2:54 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
We've all wondered what it's like to die. Now an outfit in Shanghai says it can provide the experience.
updated 9:15 PM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
Our special report details who, what and how much it takes to bring you the best in IFE (we'll explain).
updated 2:32 AM EDT, Wed August 13, 2014
What pizza is to New York and the cheesesteak is to Philly, the food truck has become to Los Angeles -- essential
updated 5:03 AM EDT, Wed August 20, 2014
If you've ever clicked on a list of forests to see before you die, chances are you've already seen a photo of this stunner.
updated 8:18 PM EDT, Thu August 7, 2014
The military coup in Thailand has led to a massive change in Phuket, weeding out decades of misuse and abuse at one of the world's most popular holiday destinations.
updated 5:56 AM EDT, Thu July 31, 2014
With a mix of Indian, African, French and Chinese influences, Mauritius represents a cultural smorgasbord.
updated 8:44 AM EDT, Fri August 8, 2014
There's nothing like high drama on a beach.
updated 5:57 AM EDT, Mon August 11, 2014
Home to big game, sparkling beaches, and stunning sunsets, Malawi makes for an idyllic travel destination.
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT