Local police in Sanya, Hainan Province, ordered a five-day detention on Sunday for a 58-year-old nude sunbather who refused to cover up while on a public beach. This marks the first penalty issued by local authorities, which are determined to put a halt to the increasing numbers of nude sunbathers.
It is reported that most nude swimmers and sunbathers in Sanya are old and middle-aged men. Some of them want to improve their physical condition through sunbathing, the same as many overseas lovers of naked sunbathing.
However, public nudity will not be treated the same on Sanya's beaches as in some foreign countries. Sanya embraces seasonal tourists, most of whom are not prepared to accept nude swimmers and sunbathers, especially when they are accompanied by youngsters. Most of them feel offended, and that is why police have received so many complaints and reports in recent days.
The appearance of nude sunbathing is a likely result of influence from Western culture and lifestyles. China has gradually accepted many Western cultural norms, such as being a model and girls wearing bikinis. Is it possible that someday nude sunbathing will also be accepted?
It could. But now the problem is which side should compromise, the minority of nude swimmers and sunbathers or the majority of tourists who do not want nudity on public beaches.
So far, it is impossible to reach a consensus on this debate. There is a process in which imported cultural habits will have to confront Chinese traditional philosophies and customs, in which sex-related customs are especially stubborn.
For now, nude sunbathing can find few positive responses from China's young generations. Without the support of Chinese public opinion on the Internet, it means this kind of fashion is still too way-out for Chinese people.
The local authorities also made the right choice to protect the rights of the people who feel offended by nude sunbathers and swimmers. Public authorities should put these people, who lack adaptability and are mentally vulnerable in face of nude sunbathers and swimmers as their priority.
Some suggestions have been given to sort the dilemma out, such as designating an exclusive area on the beach for nude swimmers and sunbathers. This could work, and it is also possible that this exclusive area will be accepted by and open to a larger public.
The beaches in Sanya have actually been engraved by many conflicts between Chinese and Western cultures. These conflicts are not all value-oriented.
The significance of culture does not lie in some specific outcome, but helps the whole nation to recognize itself in history.