BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s capital has fined more than 50 people for spitting in the past week’s holiday, state media reported on Monday, as Beijing steps up a campaign to “civilize” the city before the 2008 Olympics.
Officials also handed out more than 10,000 bags to tourists to try to keep them from littering as inspection teams fanned out across the city’s tourist sites during the week-long Labor Day holiday, when hundreds of millions take to the roads.
“The Olympics are coming, and we don’t want to get disgraced,” Xinhua news agency quoted travel guide Huang Xiaohui as saying.
Guides had been instructed to remind tourists not to spit, litter or jump queues, and lead an “etiquette discussion” at the end of the tour, the report said, citing a circular issued by the China National Tourism Administration.
China also has an official etiquette watchdog, the Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee of the Chinese Communist Party, which aims to curb uncivilized behavior.
Chinese officials have expressed concern about rudeness and the country’s notorious public spitting habits and launched campaigns to cultivate courtesy and civility, keen to ensure nothing mars Beijing’s image during the.
Among the initiatives, the 11th day of every month is now “voluntarily wait in line” day, designed to stamp out pushing and shoving in favor of orderly queues.
As I read about the leadership of China attempting to “civilize” Beijing, I was reminded of the shock and hand wringing of the American News Media last July when Senator John McCain said China was immature.
Senator McCain said he didn’t understand China’s hesitation towards North Korea “unless they are immature and do not understand the consequences of their failure to exercise a beneficial influence,” adding that their actions could have been a result of “a degree of naiveté on the part of the new Chinese leadership.” [CBS News, 7/7/06]
Of course, China lost her reluctance to influence North Korea after the Koreans demonstrated a nuclear bomb.