In Brief

China Will Publicly Shame Vandals Who Tag Mount Everest Base Camp

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A view from Qomolangma National Nature Preserve (photo via @twotravellerstales/Instagram)

For those temped to leave graffiti on the base camp of the Chinese side of Mount Everest, known as Mount Qomolangma, think again: your name may appear on a public list, distributed to and publicized by news outlets. According to China News Service, tourism authorities in southwest China’s Tibet Autonomous Region announced that such a plan to curb graffiti, which covers the signs on viewing platforms, is intended to reprimand vandals.

“Starting this year, we will set up a blacklist system to punish badly-behaved tourists, such as those who leave graffiti,” Deputy Head of Tingri County Tourism Bureau Gu Chunlei said. “The blacklist will be made public through media outlets.”

Although a maintenance team reportedly cleans the notices regularly, visitors just can’t keep their pens away, obviously frustrating officials. According to Xinhua, since everyone who enters the camp is required to register his or her name, authorities will be able to cross-examine the illicit signatures people leave behind. Of course, this means that the authors of any figurative drawings will probably escape public shaming.

#qomolangma #gyatsola #tibet

A photo posted by uʍop ǝpısdn ǝɯ uɹnʇ (@jm2yn) on

Such broadcasted humiliation is common in China — a tradition, even. Last year, China’s National Tourist Administration invited Chinese tourists to document the misbehavior of other Chinese travelers and send the pictures and video to authorities, who would then publicize them. More significantly, media outlets have increasingly showcased those who upset the Communist Party as meek and utterly remorseful; The New York Times likened public shaming these days, particularly since the swearing in of current President Xi Jinping, to “an exquisite Chinese art.”

Supervisors at Mount Qomolangma not only plan to create a shaming list but also intend to introduce new tablets specifically for doodles “to meet the tourists’ demand,” as Gu said. Such designated graffiti zones have already been implemented along the Great Wall of China, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. They consist of plastic screens placed on top of actual sections of the wall, which still leaves the site looking messy but at least offers the ancient architecture some protection.

In Florence, officials have taken a more tech-savvy approach to preserving the city’s buildings, offering vandals a chance to doodle digitally instead. In March, the nonprofit preservation group Opera di Santa Maria del Fiore installed tablets inside the tower of the Florence Cathedral that each feature “Autography,” an app that allows visitors to scrawl on a particular surface such as marble or wood. The approach contrasts starkly with the forthcoming one at Mount Qomolangma;  a website also archives each Autography-drawn message online in an effort to not only raise awareness about vandalism, but also celebrate visitors’ personalized traces.

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