On Saturday, China celebrated its 67th National Day with an annual flag-raising ceremony at dawn in Tiananmen Square, but it’s what happened afterward that had everybody talking.
Apparently overcome with patriotic fervor, some of the tourists stuck around the square to help clean up the trash that was left behind. A few photos of people picking up paper and plastic bags quickly went viral on Chinese social media with many netizens praising the eco-conscious tourists.
However, other web users were more concerned about how all the garbage had got there in the first place. To get a good spot for the ceremony, many tourists had arrived at the square in the middle of the night and set up camp, not caring to clean up after themselves once the flag had been raised.
“The people who left the trash behind are all long gone,” commented one netizen.
“Those that are cleaning up the trash aren’t the same as the ones who left it behind,” agreed another.
Over the years, Golden Week travelers have become infamous for leaving tourist sites in littered ruins. Last year, tourists turned parts of Qinghai Lake into a garbage dump. In 2013, China’s “number one beach” became a hellhole after visitors were done with it.
But its Tiananman Square that often receives the worst of their wrath. On National Day in 2013, after the flag-raising ceremony, 5 tons of garbage were left behind, down from 8.5 tons in 2008 and 19 tons in 2005
So, no matter the number of people, it’s refreshing to see tourists taking the initiative to clean up after themselves. “One day, I hope that this will not count as news,” one web user wrote.
In case you want to get yourself in the mood for some environmental conservation, you can watch the flag-raising ceremony below.
[Images via NetEase / Weibo]