By Yu Jincui
A February 22 post on Weibo shed some unkind light on the image of the "ugly Chinese" recently.
Wen Fei, a Chinese woman working in Paris, posted a description of her encounter with some behaviors that give a bad name to Chinese overseas travelers.
The incident took place on an Air France flight from Paris to Wuhan, Hubei Province, on February 22. According to Wen, two Chinese passengers who sat near her, both apparently drunk, snatched several bottles of wine from the airplane service cart and stowed them in their bags.
Wen further claimed that she and the airplane crew were unable to reason with these two disgraceful men. Instead, they were verbally attacked by the drunken pair.
The post caused another round of sighs from netizens over the embarrassing behavior of some Chinese travelers.
In September 2012, a Swiss International Air Lines flight was forced to return to the place of departure six hours after takeoff due to a fierce brawl between two Chinese passengers.
People were shocked to find that what triggered the brawl was simply an unintentional interruption of one's meal by the other sitting in front of him and reclining his chair.
Netizens also listed various kinds of Chinese travelers' poor behavior such as jumping queues to get on a flight even though they know full well that everyone has an assigned seat, and quarreling over space to stow their suitcases.
The outside world is seeing an increasing number of Chinese travelers across the world. Unfortunately, their impression of Chinese is being tainted with such "ugly Chinese" behaviors.
So far the identities of the two wine-snatchers remain unknown. A picture secretly taken by Wen shows one well-dressed, middle-aged man. It was also further revealed by media reports that their seats were in business class.
Perhaps foreigners will find it hard to believe that someone who has purchased such an expensive seat would greedily and forcibly take as much as free wine as he wants.
Unfortunately, cases of people going for petty advantages can be commonly seen in daily life in China.
It is common knowledge that toilet paper in public bathrooms has been taken by citizens. In October 2012, it was reported that citizens in Dalian, Liaoning Province, even stole new plastic dustbins to store brined vegetables.
On some domestic flights, Chinese passengers "stealing" things like blankets and earphones has long been a headache for airplane crews.
These things are trivial and not valuable enough to be put on record by the police. We can only depend on the good quality and morality of the passengers to prevent such incidents.
The causes for such small-mindedness are complicated. It's a matter of low-quality character and morality due to inadequate education.
Besides, decades of poverty imprinted an instinct among Chinese to snatch and grab when they have the chance.
With the rapid development of China's economy, the living conditions of Chinese have improved a lot. But the character of the Chinese has failed to advance with the times.
Airplanes are the main mode of international travel nowadays, and the language and manners of passengers from all over the world are on full display in the limited space of the cabin.
This could vividly reflect the degree of a country's modern civilization and morality.
If Chinese don't rid themselves of such small-minded mentalities and fail to leave these bad and humiliating habits at home when they travel overseas, they will not be respected across the world. Nor could China be regarded as a great power in the international arena, as citizens are the cells that constitute a nation.
The author is a reporter with the Global Times. firstname.lastname@example.org