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Graffiti not Allowed, Unless You’re Li Bai

5 October 2006

Caving a word, a phrase, even a complete poem or sutra along with author’s name into a wall, column or stone is a time-honoured practice in China, which permanently marks one’s visit to a place. And it is how some rather ordinary places transformed into tourist hot spots: there are graffities left by famous historical figures. Some of those are considered national treasures under government protection.

A historical graffiti

But the same can’t be said for new graffiti. In fact, during this holiday season, Chinese authorities have tried hard to stop people creating potential new tourist attractions. Folks who show off their calligraphy skills on heritage buildings are considered as bad as those who spit on streets, throw rubbish in gardens, talk aloud in public or pester foreigners to take photos with them. All these behaviours are now labeled "uncivilised conducts".

In future, China may have less tourist attractions but clearer streets and intact heritage buildings.

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Police: I hope I didn't see you carve your name into the Great Wall!

Tourist: I hope so too, sir!


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