Tourists trash Forbidden City moat

By Yin Yeping Source:Global Times Published: 2013-2-27 0:13:01

A girl eats instant noodles beside the moat of the Forbidden City. The moat has become a garbage dump. Photo: Li Hao/GT
A girl eats instant noodles beside the moat of the Forbidden City. The moat has become a garbage dump. Photo: Li Hao/GT

Tourists have been accused of turning the Forbidden City's moat into a garbage dump, after waste and food packaging has piled up on the moat's melting ice.

The moat's administrators and the district sanitary office said that the ice condition now means that cleaning up the garbage is not only difficult, but also hazardous.

The moat, which is 3.5 kilometers long and 52 meters wide, was originally built in the early Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), and was renovated in 1999.

For administrative purposes, the moat is divided into three sections governed by three organizations, the Forbidden City, Zhongshan Park and Tai Temple (or Worker's Cultural Palace).

Zhang Ying, media officer of the Forbidden City, said the weather conditions, as winter turns to spring, make it difficult to clean up the moat. 

"The melting ice makes garbage picking difficult," she said, noting that cleaning work is done on a daily basis when the weather allows boating.

Zhang noted that they still clean the moat in the winter when the water is frozen and the ice can withstand the weight of the cleaners.

The north part of the east gate and the west gate of the Forbidden City are under the administration of the Forbidden City, said Zhang.

The head of the administration office of Zhongshan Park, surnamed Zheng, also confirmed that cleaners operate on a daily basis all year round.

"But these days, the ice condition prevents us from cleaning up," he said, noting that it is too thin to bear a person's weight, and too thick for boating.

"We have to use long wooden sticks we make ourselves to grab the garbage,  but it's not easy," he said.

"We also have staff patrolling the area to ensure the moat neighboring our park is clean," said Zheng.

"During national holidays and festivals, we collect hundreds of kilograms of garbage from the moat," he said.

On Tuesday afternoon, garbage, including boxes of instant noodles, corncobs and plastic bags was still scattered along the bank of the moat nearest to the road. There was noticeably less trash on the southwest side of the moat administrated by Zhongshan Park.

Vendors were selling corncobs to tourists sitting beside the moat. Some tourists just threw their food waste directly onto the ice of the moat.

One of them, a tourist surnamed Liu from Henan Province, threw a corncob into the moat after he finished it.

"I didn't notice there were trash cans," he said. Then he admitted that the look of the garbage-strewn moat is ruining the city's image.

"I won't do it again," he said.

A resident, surnamed Yu, said he went to the Forbidden City from time to time and seeing piles of garbage around the moat is rather common, especially during the long holidays.

"It's certainly not a good sight at such a world-famous tourist attraction," he said.

"The trash cans are often full and people have nowhere else to put the garbage," he said, noting that there should be more rubbish bins.

"The main problem is still the bad manners of the tourists," he said.

Guo Ning, a cleaner from Dongcheng Environmental Sanitation Engineering Group, which is responsible for the cleaning in the area, said their job is to clean the garbage on the ground not in the moat, as they do not have the right equipment.

Guo said that there are dozens of trash cans alongside the moat and they empty them every day.

"The more the tourists throw garbage in the moat, the more people will take that for granted and follow their behavior," she said.

Both Zheng and Guo said they are not authorized to tell tourists not to throw garbage around. Even when she is picking up trash, other tourists are throwing it away, said Guo.

A local resident surnamed Wang, who said he often walked around the moat with his son, said the garbage dumping problem is serious.

"The bad manners of some tourists from outside the city make the city look bad here," he said, noting that he saw them throwing garbage into the moat when the trash cans were just a few meters away.

An employee from the Worker's Cultural Palace, who would not give her name, said she knew about the issue but refused to comment Tuesday.

Posted in: Society, Metro Beijing

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