Chinese schoolboy, 15, exposed as Egypt’s ancient temple graffiti vandal

Internet users name and shame teenager who scratched 3,500-year-old artwork

Beijing

The parents of a Chinese teenager who scratched his name into a 3,500-year-old Egyptian artwork have apologised for his actions after internet users tracked down the boy to name and shame him.

The 15-year-old, from Nanjing, was identified after a photo of his graffiti – which said “Ding Jinhao was here” in Mandarin – at the Temple of Luxor was posted online on Friday.

A microblogger named Shen, who visited the temple on the banks of the River Nile three weeks ago, cited the graffiti as an example of shameful behaviour by Chinese tourists abroad. The posting attracted a torrent of replies, including suggestions that the perpetrator be tracked down.

Investigators used the internet (known in China as “the human flesh search engine”) to trace Ding Jinhao and released his age, his school and other personal details. Hackers even compromised his former primary school’s website, forcing visitors to click on a sign parodying Ding’s graffiti before they could enter the site, the Global Times newspaper reported.

Ding’s parents admitted their son had defaced the artwork a few years ago but said he was sorry for his actions. “We want to apologise to the Egyptian people and to people who have paid attention to this case across China,” the boy’s mother told Nanjing’s Modern Express newspaper at the weekend.

Ding’s parents said it was their lack of education and supervision that led to his mischief. They said the attack happened when their son, now in middle school, was little. They were with a tourist group and did not notice when he scrawled on the sculpture, the mother said. “We have taken him sightseeing since he was little and we often saw such graffiti. But we didn’t realise we should have told him that this is wrong,” she added. She also implored internet users not to hound her son.

The boy’s father asked for his son to be left alone, saying: “This is too much pressure for him to take.” However, the Egyptian ministry of antiquities said the damage to the temple was superficial and it was being repaired.

The number of Chinese who can afford foreign holidays is soaring, and  they spent £67bn overseas last year. Earlier this month, Wang Yang, one of China’s four vice-premiers, said the “uncivilised behaviour” of some Chinese tourists was harming the country’s image. Graffiti is relatively rare in China and there are laws to protect cultural sites. Punishments for intentionally defacing relics can involve a short stint in jail and a fine of up to 500 yuan (£54).

Anger over Ding Jinhao’s graffiti was also directed at Chinese authorities, who were accused of failing to protect ancient sites such as the Great Wall of China from polution and structural decay.

“We don’t apologise if we tear down the walls of an ancient city,” wrote one microblogger, Ding Laifeng. “We don’t apologise if we bury an ancient burial site. We don’t apologise if we destroy ancient buildings with pollution? So where do we get the face to ask a graffiti child to say sorry?”

Another commentator, Yu Minhong, blamed the boy’s parents and said China was right to be ashamed by Ding’s actions. “When you go to every tourist site, you can see something like: “X has been here”. We feel ashamed if we do it abroad, why not in China? We should learn to protect our cultural relics and understand it is also a shame to write on our own faces.”

Suggested Topics
Arts and Entertainment
Art on their sleeves: before downloads and streaming, enthusiasts used to flick through racks of albums in their local record shops
musicFor Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Arts and Entertainment
Serial suspect: the property heir charged with first-degree murder, Robert Durst
TV review
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Igarashi in her

Art Megumi Igarashi criticises Japan's 'backwards' attitude to women's sexual expression

Arts and Entertainment
Could Ed Sheeran conquer the Seven Kingdoms? He could easily pass for a Greyjoy like Alfie Allen's character (right)

tv Singer could become the most unlikely star of Westeros

Arts and Entertainment
Beyonce, Boris Johnson, Putin, Nigel Farage, Russell Brand and Andy Murray all get the Spitting Image treatment from Newzoids
tvReview: The sketches need to be very short and very sharp as puppets are not intrinsically funny
Arts and Entertainment
Despite the controversy it caused, Mile Cyrus' 'Wrecking Ball' video won multiple awards
musicPoll reveals over 70% of the British public believe sexually explicit music videos should get ratings
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister and Ian Beattie as Meryn Trant in the fifth season of Game of Thrones

TV
Arts and Entertainment

book review
Arts and Entertainment
It's all in the genes: John Simm working in tandem with David Threlfall in 'Code of a Killer'

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Far Right and Proud: Reggies Yates' Extreme Russia

TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Kanye West was mobbed in Armenia after jumping into a lake

music
Arts and Entertainment
The show suffers from its own appeal, being so good as to create an appetite in its viewers that is difficult to sate in a ten episode series

Game of Thrones reviewFirst look at season five contains some spoilers
Arts and Entertainment
Judi Dench and Kevin Spacey on the Red Carpet for 2015's Olivier Awards

Ray Davies' Sunny Afternoon scoops the most awards

Theatre
Arts and Entertainment
Proving his metal: Ross Poldark (played by Aidan Turner in the BBC series) epitomises the risk-taking spirit of 18th-century mine owners

Poldark review
Arts and Entertainment
Eddie Redmayne is reportedly favourite to play Newt Scamander in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

film
Arts and Entertainment
Tom Hardy stars in dystopian action thriller Mad Max: Fury Road

film
Arts and Entertainment
Josh, 22, made his first million from the game MinoMonsters

Grace Dent

Channel 4 show proves there's no app for happiness
News
Disgraced Top Gear presenter Jeremy Clarkson
people
Arts and Entertainment
Game face: Zoë Kravitz, Bruce Greenwood and Ethan Hawke in ‘Good Kill’

film review

Arts and Entertainment
Living like there’s no tomorrow: Jon Hamm as Don Draper in the final season of ‘Mad Men’

TV review

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Revealed: Why Mohammed Emwazi chose the 'safe option' of fighting for Isis, rather than following his friends to al-Shabaab in Somalia

    Why Mohammed Emwazi chose Isis

    His friends were betrayed and killed by al-Shabaab
    'The solution can never be to impassively watch on while desperate people drown'
An open letter to David Cameron: Building fortress Europe has had deadly results

    Open letter to David Cameron

    Building the walls of fortress Europe has had deadly results
    Tory candidates' tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they seem - you don't say!

    You don't say!

    Tory candidates' election tweets not as 'spontaneous' as they appear
    Mubi: Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash

    So what is Mubi?

    Netflix for people who want to stop just watching trash all the time
    The impossible job: how to follow Kevin Spacey?

    The hardest job in theatre?

    How to follow Kevin Spacey
    Armenian genocide: To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie

    Armenian genocide and the 'good Turks'

    To continue to deny the truth of this mass human cruelty is close to a criminal lie
    Lou Reed: The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond the biographers' and memoirists' myths

    'Lou needed care, but what he got was ECT'

    The truth about the singer's upbringing beyond
    Migrant boat disaster: This human tragedy has been brewing for four years and EU states can't say they were not warned

    This human tragedy has been brewing for years

    EU states can't say they were not warned
    Women's sportswear: From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help

    Women's sportswear

    From tackling a marathon to a jog in the park, the right kit can help
    Hillary Clinton's outfits will be as important as her policies in her presidential bid

    Clinton's clothes

    Like it or not, her outfits will be as important as her policies
    NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

    Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

    A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

    The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
    How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

    How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

    Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
    From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

    The wars that come back to haunt us

    David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
    Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

    A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders