Sunday, December 30, 2007

Resolutions for August 2008

The eight month countdown to the Olympics is literally around the corner.

Twenty-six of the 31 venues are completed and many of them have undergone testing.

The new subway Line 5 is up and running, and more lines are madly tunneling their way under the city.

Finishing touches are being added to Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital Airport, ready to receive tens of thousands of visitors a day.

Progress of the hardware is practically ahead of schedule.

But what about the software?

Officials are really concerned that the Chinese still aren't getting the message that they should really curb their desire to spit.

"Hosting the Olympics is not only about building grand stadiums," said Zheng Mojie, deputy director of Beijing's Capital Ethics Development Office, the official etiquette watchdog.

"As tens of thousands of foreign visitors are expected to flood into China next summer, both China's positive and negative sides will be amplified. So we must change those bad local habits," she added.

One civil servant named Wang Tao has taken it upon himself to wage a campaign by recruiting a team of volunteers who call themselves the Green Woodpecker Project. He chose this bird because he says it picks up worms and cleans up the forest.

Wang's team literally hit the streets and as soon as they see someone about to hork, they stop them and hand them a tissue. Wang even films them on his camcorder as evidence of their bad behaviour and apparently puts the clips on his website.

However it's going to take longer than months to fix the problem.

The concept of spitting is ingrained in the culture and hey -- if paramount leader Deng Xiaoping did it, why can't I?

Many believe if there is an irritation or too much phlegm in their throats, the best thing to do is to spit it out.

But I don't know when the practice of just spitting on the streets began.

No one bats an eyelid when they hear that screeching noise and no one makes a face; spitting is a memorable addition to the city's atmosphere.

It probably won't be until the "floods" of visitors come to Beijing and look with shock and horror will the residents perhaps consider what they are doing is not quite polite.

In the meantime city officials are stepping up their campaigns to stop the spitting as well as enforcing the idea of lining up properly.

The 11th day of every month is designated "Queuing Day". With some imagination, the number 11 looks like a pair of orderly lines.

But one day a month isn't enough to instill this culture in the people. I've had to fight tooth and nail to get into a 614 bus at Dongzhimen. If you don't stick out your elbows and force your way in, you'll never get on, let alone get a seat.

Again, there aren't enough officials to enforce this or to catch people spitting to fine them 50RMB (US$6.50).

People are just going to continue these practices before and after the Games.

During the Olympics they'll probably be hidden away at home, so the foreigners can't see them.

1 comment:

ks said...

thanks to the british opium 200 years ago the chinese had this chronic sputum in the throat. thus the spitun. also the habit of smoking the water-pipe it has become a norm to have this piece of utencil at home. i think china is doing its best to wipe out this practice. this fine of $50 and filming is also good. also public education such as showing the film of spitting in theatres before the main feautre will be a good idea too.