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Much ado about...littering at Lugu Lake

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A video of a short-lived brawl in Yunnan is making the rounds on social media and microblogging services, causing a stir even though not much happened. It was filmed in all its pixelated glory over the National Day holiday at Lugu Lake in the northwestern portion of the province.

The scuffle — video of which was published online by news website The Paper — broke out after local vendors repeatedly admonished a group of tourists for throwing garbage into the lake. After one final round of rebukes, the two sides erupted into a short-lived skirmish in which at least one participant picked up a boat oar and began swinging at other people.

In total, the video filmed at the Sanjiacun Pier lasts only four seconds, although the fracas may have been longer. At one point it shows a group of three people lying on the dock where the fight started. The combatants were reportedly separated before law enforcement personnel arrived. Local authorities in Yunnan's Ninglang County issued a statement naming the litterer as a Chinese national surnamed Chen. He — along with several other people with minor injuries — was taken to a nearby hospital where he has treated for a dislocated finger.

The police report ended by saying "The case is being investigated further". Mr Chen was throwing sunflower seeds into the lake, which may be an offense that goes unpunished, although it is possible his participation in the fight may land him on China's ever-growing travel blacklist.

While the event itself will no doubt soon be forgotten, it briefly highlighted the ongoing evolution of Chinese public consciousness regarding garbage disposal and social responsibility. Several comments left on QQ's streaming service — where the video has been viewed a somewhat astonishing 44 million times — called for a travel ban for Chen, while others deemed him "low class" and "lacking morals".

Lugu Lake straddles the border of Yunnan and Sichuan. The area is known for its beauty, as well as for being fairly well managed in terms of pollution prevention. This year over the National Day golden week, a reported 88,000 people visited the lake, drawn by local Mosuo minority culture and pristine natural views. In a China where environmental consciousness has taken on patriotic importance, it appears locals are willing to fight to keep what they have.

Top image: Lijiang Tourism Bureau

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Comments

the 57th minority in China is the 垃圾族. Whenever wherever I am trekking I never get lost since I simply follow the discarded trash. I used to stop the fiendish culprits but they seem to consider national scenic areas as giant trash bins. Of course, not all of them. Often other Chinese hikers cheer me on as I shout at the miscreants using bad words and bad grammar. Sure the next generation will be pristine.

To be fair sunflower seeds don't sound like the worst type of litter. Aren't they organic? Don't they just return to nature?

I love the way the four guys are just lying down at the end of the video, Playing the victims no doubt. What are they waiting for, compensation?

might be organic, but so is paper. someon still needs to pick up the litter. if you think seeds insignificant, suggest you go to a chinese wedding and see the mess of shells under the tables when people have finished, multiply by number of coachloads of tourists. that is a lot of crap to pick up, and still disrepectful if people ask you to stop and you just flip them off

There's industrial pollution, plastic bags in landfill and floating round the ocean, traffic fumes, raw sewage dumped in lakes, global warming etc eyc and you really want to see people beat up for chucking a few sunflower seeds around? Bizarre

Lugu Lake, known to the local people as Motherlake holds special religious significance for the local community. Any form of littering therefore is not acceptable however biodegradable that litter is.

poop is natural and a useful fertilizeer, i wouldnt want it on the carpet, or on a public path

@daodejingster

LOL. I like your first sentence, and your penultimate one. I'll cheer you on too!

Well I still think sunflower seeds are no big deal and neither is a sprained finger. As for foreigners shouting at Chinese litterbugs ... it isn't likely to be very effective. Lugu lake has become a bit of a tourist trap and has attracted a fair number of idiots hoping to experience a walking (or perhaps walk-in) marriage. Let's hope it's remote enough and high enough to avoid the fate of Lijiang. I read somewhere that lugu means fall in. Carefully fall into the lake.

Rich tourist arrogance is most likely the trigger.. Farmers in Mercedes.

Well that may well be true in this case. Put a peasant on a horse as my mum used to say. On the other hand I've come across very intelligent, sophisticated and liberal minded people whose hotels spew raw sewage into lakes. Lugu lake suffers from this problem not sunflower seeds. I wonder if The Paper would be so keen to report on it.

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