Parks in Beijing want to blacklist ‘uncivilized’ visitors

Tourism authorities in Beijing said they are considering creating a blacklist of “uncivilized visitors” in order to curb bad behavior by visitors, as the city is inundated with tourists for Tomb Sweeping Festival.

According to state media, officials at the Beijing Municipal Administration Center of Parks said that the upsurge in domestic tourists visiting the Chinese capital for the three-day holiday, also known as Qingming Festival, had coincided with “uncivilized tourist behavior,” including climbing peach trees, picking flowers, damaging plants, fishing in park lakes, and selling things illegally within the city’s parks.

A blacklist would block “loutish travelers” from visiting the city’s parks, using facial recognition software and other surveillance technology to monitor guests and keep out those with a record of bad behavior.

In 2017, Beijing’s Temple of Heaven Park installed face scanners in its toilets to prevent what officials said was an epidemic of toilet paper theft. Those needing paper had to make eye contact with a machine before it spit out a single portion — anyone needing more than the provided amount would need to wait 9 minutes.

“Many old people come here for free toilet paper. They were probably born in 1940s or 1950s,” Wu Qingqi, a visitor to the park, told CNN at the time. “During that time, people were very poor. And they somehow still are in fear of being poor. Other migrant workers come here too.”

Chinese tourists made more than 112 million domestic trips during this year’s Tomb Sweeping Festival, a 10.9% increase on last year, according to the Ministry of Culture and Tourism. Beijing alone saw more than 700,000 people visiting some dozen parks around the city.

Policing of tourists has been ramping up in recent years. In 2016, the China National Tourism Administration placed 20 people with a history of bad behavior on a blacklist, restricting their ability to travel.

Two of those blacklisted had caused a plane from Bangkok to the Chinese city of Nanjing to return halfway after they got into an argument with fight attendants, while in another case, a passenger tried to prevent a plane taking off by forcing open its emergency exit.

Last year, the travel blacklist was expanded to include more than 670 people. While some of the offenses which landed people on the list included travel misbehavior such as disrupting flights or smoking on trains, it also includes those who have failed to pay court judgments or taking part in illegal securities trading.

People on the list can be banned from some or all air and train travel for up to 12 months.

Such blacklists are seen as a precursor to a proposed countrywide “social credit system,” which would be used to monitor and police a huge range of behavior. People with poor social credit scores could be prevented from traveling, struggle to apply for loans, or banned from taking part in some businesses.

Human Rights Watch has described the proposed system as “dystopian,” and warned it could have major ramifications for privacy.