China Parents Apologize for Teen’s Egypt Graffiti

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 27 2013 9:22 AM

China Parents Apologize After Netizens Track Down Teenager who Defaced Egyptian Temple

luxor
Photograph posted on Weibo that quickly went viral

Earlier this month, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang called on his country’s tourists to improve their behavior while abroad. Less than two weeks later, Chinese netizens were outraged after user Kongyouwuyi on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter, posted a photo of graffiti on a 3,500-year-old temple in Luxor, Egypt. The photo showed several Chinese characters scratched onto the temple, reading: Ding Jinhao was here. "The sentence means Ding Jinhao has visited this place. This was the saddest and most shameful moment I had in Egypt,” wrote Kongyouwuyi in his Weibo post, according to China’s Global Times. “I apologized to our local tour guide, who comforted me instead, saying this was not our fault, and that it should be the local guide's responsibility to stop such behavior.”

The photograph quickly went viral and was forwarded more than 90,000 times. China’s netizens launched what is known as a “human flesh” search and in less than a day tracked down Ding, discovering he is a 15-year-old in the city of Nanjing. His school’s website was quickly hacked. The boy’s parents reached out to local media, and apologized for their son Saturday. "We want to apologize to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China," Ding's mother told local newspaper Modern Express, according to the BBC.

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"The boy has known about it since Friday and cried all night. He has had to be moved around because reporters rushed to their house for interviews," the Modern Express reporter who talked with the parents told the Global Times. The father called on China’s netizens to leave his son alone: "The kid has a good academic record, but is a little introverted. This is too much pressure for him to take."

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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