Foreign Woman Removes Top At Beach in Qingdao, Causes Major Disturbance

Posted on August 24th, by matt_schiavenza in Uncategorized. 18 comments

Contrary to popular perception, women in Asia are not universally modest. Any time I visit a nightclub in Kunming, for example, I see girls dressed up in outfits that would make any Westerner blush. Granted, some of these women are hired by the club to attract men, but in general women who patronize night-spots in Chinese cities do not dress any less provocatively than their Western counterparts would. And this is in China, which is far more conservative in this way than places like Japan, Korea, and Taiwan.

Yet on the beach, most Chinese women dress as if no one has seen a swimsuit catalogue in 60 years.  Most young women-in my years of experience ogling babes on beaches across the world- wear bikinis. Not in China. A bikini, to most women I know here, would attract unwanted attention from men and darken their skin, the scourge of the Asian middle class.  Toplessness is out of the question- a topless woman would be about as inconspicuous as Shaquille O’Neal in rural Sichuan.

And so it isn’t terribly surprising that a European woman- the harlot!- caused a minor incident in Qingdao by removing her top on the beach. In homage to Chris*, here is a rough translation** of the whole amusing article:


At 2pm on August 12th, a foreign woman (on the left of the photo) at the Number 1 Seaside Bathing Beach sunbathed half-nude, behavior immediately triggering a  commotion at the beach. Some residents dubbed the woman’s behavior ‘out of line’, yet many beach-goers still approached the woman for a photograph.


“There’s a foreign woman sunbathing topless at the beach!”. At 2 pm, a city resident surnamed Chu telegrammed this newspaper at 96663 with the news. Shortly thereafter, this reporter arrived at the Number 1 bathing beach, which due to the sizzling weather, was crammed with both local and visiting beach-goers. Under the guidance of a local, this reporter located the half-naked woman.


This reporter then saw a blonde, topless woman taking photos with other beach-goers, and although she was within view of a number of people, she remained unfazed.

Shortly thereafter, this reporter approached the woman to talk, and after basic conversation the reporter understood that the woman came from Bulgaria, had been in Qingdao four days, and thought Qingdao was a very beautiful city. She seemed indifferent to her toplessness, believing that to be topless was her right.


“With so many people around, this kind of behavior is quite unbecoming!”, said a septuagenerian man who couldn’t help but shake his head after seeing the woman. “This may be normal overseas, but here it’s indecent.” A number of residents whom this reporter interviewed expressed bewilderment with the forwardness of the woman’s behavior.

记者随后来到浴场管理处,相关负责人告诉记者,虽然之前浴场也碰到过半裸的游客,但是从没有一位敢在大庭广众之下这么”大胆”的。”我们也没有办法!” 该负责人告诉记者,他们这几天已经接到不少市民和游客投诉这件事情,可是由于没有明确的法律条文禁止这种行为,浴场管理人员也不能进行强制干预,所以他们 也非常无奈。(来源:大河网)

Shortly thereafter, this reporter went to the beach management office, where he was told by a person responsible that although the beach had encountered topless guests in the past, they had never found one daring to go topless in front of so many people. “There’s nothing we can do about it!”. This reporter was told that in the past several days many residents and guests alike have complained about this matter, but because no clear law exists prohibiting this sort of behavior, beach employees simply could not intervene.

I find this story amusing because a) the Bulgarian woman continued sunbathing topless despite what appears to have been an enormous amount of attention on top of the persistent questioning of the reporter, b) that the supposed ‘moral outrage’ involved didn’t prevent beach-goers from crowding around the woman and taking her photo, and c) that rather than compel the woman to put her top back on, the beach officials were preventing from doing so due to the absence of a clear legal statute regarding these matters. See, China is a nation that respects the rule of law!

*Chris, it should be noted, translates items of actual societal value. I’ll stick to the more lurid side with mine.
** Translators, or friends with better Chinese than mine- please feel free to correct this translation of mine. But only if you have way too much free time.

18 Responses to “Foreign Woman Removes Top At Beach in Qingdao, Causes Major Disturbance”

  1. matt_schiavenza says:


  2. Ling says:

    Waw. Your translation is REALLY good!

  3. […] of my favorite bloggers has translated an interesting story that touches on sensitive cultural/legal issues. His summary: I find this story amusing because a) […]

  4. bert says:

    No pictures? This report sucks! :P

  5. Gawker says:

    Where are da pictures?!?! I don’t believe this story, just an attempt to draw traffic to a blog. Yet another internet BS’er

  6. Michael says:

    Topless sunbathing at Bondi beach has become something of a drawcard for Chinese tourists. Or should I say gawking at it has. Just watch the mainland Chinese men troop off the tour buses with their telephoto lenses and start clicking away. And the women mutter about how it confirms that foreign women are loose and have no shame.

  7. Michael says:

    Pics pls

  8. smh says:

    That was pretty bland. The people raising objections seemed to be old timers while everyone else didn’t seem to give a shit.

  9. matt_schiavenza says:

    Thanks for the link, Vlad. Sorry if the story didn’t conform to your expectations. I just thought it was funny.

  10. Jocelyn says:

    Hi Matt, thanks for the interesting post, and great translation!

    Your comment about China as a nation that respects rule of law caught my eye. This is definitely a case where the officials did respect the rule of law — but it did happen in a large city. The farther you get away from a major metropolis in China, the more lawless things get. I’ve spent a lot of time out in the country in China, b/c my inlaws live there, and I’ve experienced some pretty blatant instances where rule of law was ignored.

    In any event, thanks for sharing, and keep up the great work.

  11. […] episode involving a foreign lady sunbathing topless on a Qingdao beach, translated by Matt Shiavenza, has provoked amazement among netizens. Not just because the Bulgarian sunbather gathered a crowd […]

  12. Lousie says:

    As a Chinese, I could not see what illustrated by the author in this case. In my view, I think that the reason that the beach officials were preventing from doing so, no illustrating the author’s conclusion: “China is a nation that respects the rule of law!” It was only that the she was a foreign woman, in such situation, in China, people take it very carefully in order to avoid the trouble. The beach officers knew clearly that they had to deal with by the reasonable, and afraid of self-discretion to cause trouble to them. The claim of “the absence of a clear legal statute regarding these matters” was a good reason for them to do nothing in this case.

    My point is that the author tried to illustrate this case in the term of law, but it may be a culture.

  13. matt_schiavenza says:

    I think culture indeed is a major deterministic factor here. My ‘rule of law’ comment was more a crack at what has become a stated priority of the Chinese government going forward than an actual analysis of the situation.

    My basic belief is that foreigners are allowed to act weird in China so long as they don’t get in the way of the Chinese.

  14. matt_schiavenza says:

    Oh yeah- the one pic associated with this story was a distant shot of a vaguely blonde woman’s nude back. Hot shit! That- and the normal technical troubles that have become de rigeur at this blog- are why I didn’t bother with the pics.

    There are plenty of places online where you can find naked boobs on the beach, and a frontal shot no less. I suggest going there for your tittilation (pun intended).

  15. […] September 19, 2009 by ajfloyd Matt Schivenza’s always interesting blog has a new post up on nudity (well, sorta) in China, entitled, “Foreign Woman Removes Top At Beach in Qingdao, Causes Major Disturbance.“ […]

  16. Brigit says:

    oh get over it

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