BEIJING – Next time you leave silly messages on the world’s highest mountain, beware: China is watching you.
Mountaineering officials have scrubbed graffiti from two granite tablets on the Chinese side of Mount Everest’s northern base camp and plan to name and shame future defilers.
State-run mobile news site The Paper reported Wednesday that workers removed the signatures, dates, doodles and messages left by scores of visitors. They include “let’s wander together,” “farewell to the mountain” and “here I come.”
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The graffiti grew so thick it covered the information about the mountain carved into the tablets in Chinese, Tibetan and English.
The base camp at roughly 5,200 metres (17,060 feet) is a popular tourist site and has fallen prey to the sort of behaviour the Chinese government says is uncivilized and vows to punish.
Along with publicizing the names of those leaving behind graffiti, base camp management is considering setting aside separate wall space just for visitors to write their names and other messages, a local tourism official, Gu Chunlei, told The Paper.
“It’s a way of getting travellers to change their habits without even knowing it,” Gu was quoted as saying. Similar graffiti walls have been set up at other scenic sites, including the Great Wall outside Beijing that has long been a target for those seeking to leave a mark of their visit.
As personal incomes have risen, Chinese have become avid travellers and bad behaviour by some of them has become something of an embarrassment. Along with sharp criticism in the media and online forums, the government has set up an online national database naming those involved in particularly egregious behaviour and giving airlines, hotels and other travel outlets the option of refusing them service.
In 2013, a Chinese teenager scratched his name on an ancient Egyptian temple and was roundly condemned by his fellow Chinese.
Everest itself has accumulated garbage, pollution and other ills brought by the vastly increased numbers of climbers and visitors to the peak that straddles China and Nepal.