A Chinese social media influencer has sparked a backlash after posting a video of herself throwing money at Thai locals during a trip to Bangkok.
The video, which was uploaded to TikTok on December 12, shows the influencer, who goes by the name of Xiao Qian, walking around a busy street market and tossing banknotes at vendors and pedestrians. She is accompanied by a cameraman and a translator, who tells the locals to “pick up the money” and “thank her”.
The video has been viewed more than 10 million times and has drawn widespread criticism from both Thai and Chinese netizens, who accused Xiao Qian of being disrespectful, arrogant and insensitive to the economic hardships faced by many Thais amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
Some commenters also pointed out that Xiao Qian’s behavior violated Thailand’s currency law, which prohibits anyone from defacing, damaging or destroying Thai currency, and carries a penalty of up to 15 years in prison.
Xiao Qian’s Atrocious Behavior
Xiao Qian has since deleted the video and issued an apology on her TikTok account, saying that she did not intend to offend anyone and that she was just trying to “spread happiness” and “help the local economy”. She also claimed that she had donated 100,000 baht (about US$3,000) to a local charity after the incident.
However, her apology did not seem to appease the public anger, as many people continued to call for her to be punished and banned from entering Thailand again.
The Thai authorities have also taken notice of the incident and said that they are investigating the matter. According to the Bangkok Post, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has contacted the Chinese embassy in Bangkok and asked them to cooperate in identifying Xiao Qian and her companions.
The TAT also said that it would launch a campaign to educate Chinese tourists about Thai culture and etiquette, and to remind them to respect the local laws and customs.
The incident comes as Thailand is trying to revive its tourism industry, which has been severely hit by the Covid-19 crisis. The country recently reopened its borders to fully vaccinated travelers from 63 countries and territories, including China, without requiring quarantine.
China is Thailand’s largest source of tourists, accounting for about 28% of the total arrivals in 2019. However, the number of Chinese visitors dropped by 83% in 2020 due to the travel restrictions imposed by the pandemic.