In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:

130 5 The Dangers of Mobility Disciplining the Traveler T he economic benefits of human mobility within a market logic have been at odds with the Chinese state’s continued desire to exercise fairly close control over its population. As people begin to move, they slip out of the grip of traditional systems of administrative control based on household registration and work units. They also, as Murphy (2004) argues, increase what Appadurai, drawing on Amartya Sen, calls their “capacity to aspire,” that is, to imagine a range of life-goals—even unattainable ones—beyond the previously unquestioned ideas of the good life dictated by the family, the village, or the nation. This happens through individuals’ exposure to different lifestyles, as well as through learning to access and use new sources of information. Fishermen from Fujian and nannies from Anhui go to Internet cafés in Budapest or Peking to chat to their friends over Webcams. Tourists from Shanghai are The Dangers of Mobility 131 exposed to the lifestyles, and potentially to the worldviews, of Tibetan herders and Australian surfers. In some cases, as we have seen, public discourse in China constructs such exposure as explicitly desirable, since it contributes to modernization, assists “building spiritual civilization,” and enhances patriotism. This is typically the case with peasants’ migration to cities or with travel to canonical sites of Chinese culture. At the same time, the government actively works to control and shape tourists’ experiences. In an early speech on developing border tourism, the then vice-director (later director) of the National Tourism Authority praised its contribution to the construction of spiritual civilization in border areas through the exposure of tour groups from these areas to “positive phenomena in Russia and North Korea such as clean cities, orderly traffic, civilized and courteous residents” (He Guangwei 1992). In the same speech, however, He also emphasized the need to “strengthen propaganda and education of tour participants, make them clearly understand the significance of border tourism, respect the rules of the tour group and obtain healthy and correct benefits from participating in the tour” (ibid.:14). Accordingly, early participants in Russian border tourism were required to undergo training on “foreign affairs regulations and the protection of (state) secrets.”1 Every tour group had to have a leader and a deputy leader, who had to report back to the organizer (travel agency) upon return.2 Concern about the potentially corrupting influence of cross-border tourism was stronger in the southwest, which borders on relatively freewheeling Thailand , drug-producing Burma, and Laos and Vietnam, where casinos target Chinese visitors. As a fairly typical article put it: Since reform and opening, the influx of culture from abroad has brought both the wheat and the chaff to the educationally rather backward area inside the border. . . . Border-area tourism and cross-border tourism in Yunnan has . . . enabled tourists to see and appreciate natural sights of foreign regions as well as special sights such as border rivers, border markers, border bridges and border gates. Tourism authorities will have to collect and prepare historical documents related to these special markers for tour guides to distribute them to tourists, as well as add on-the-ground commentary in order to attain the goal of increasing knowledge . . . [and] cultivating patriotic enthusiasm. (Zhao Ling 1998:34) In addition to concern about the ideas tourists might be exposed to across the border, authorities were also worried about what ideas about China they might project to the locals. For the government, tourists, like everybody else going abroad, were representatives of the nation because their behavior reflected on China. Back in 1986, the selection criteria for state-sponsored study overseas, issued by the State Education Commission , began with “love of the Fatherland and socialism, goodthinkfulness ,3 good character, and manners (sixiang pinde xiuyang youliang).”4 Before going abroad, students are supposed to undergo a training covering China’s foreign policy, the rules on study abroad, the rules of diplomacy (waishi jilü), and the situation of the country they are going to (Huaqiao Huaren Baike Quanshu 2000:124). Similar but stricter criteria were issued in the early 1990s for those going abroad on official business. The Regulations on Approving Personnel Going Abroad on Official Business state that individuals must be “politically reliable, with a clear history, love the socialist Fatherland, of a healthy mentality and upright character.”5 Specifically, the regulations prohibit anyone who disagrees with the Party line, supported the “Lin Biao-Jiang Qing clique” during the Cultural Revolution, was...


Additional Information

Related ISBN
MARC Record
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
Back To Top

This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Without cookies your experience may not be seamless.