China Minds Its Manners for '08 Games

From spitting to smoking; honking to hygiene, Beijing is going to great lengths to clean up its image for the 2008 Olympics.


Preparing for the 2008 summer Olympics is a huge deal in China. One way they're getting ready is by calling in experts to help the people learn better manners to improve China's image with foreigners. From spitting to smoking; honking to hygiene, Beijing is going to great lengths to clean up its image for the 2008 Olympics. There's even a new rule to stop people from cutting in line. Chinese people don't normally stand in line, but now, on the 11th day of every month, everyone will have to wait their turn. It's not just the government that's pushing better manners. Individuals are taking matters into their own hands. A Rude Awakening When Lu-Chin Mischke returned to China after 10 years in the U.S. she was greeted with rampant spitting, littering, and line-cutting. So she started The Pride Institute to teach public etiquette. "I realize some of people's behavior or habits are not based on the hostility or corrupt customs. It's because they lack correct information," Lu-chin said. The Pride Institute offers manners seminars and provides reminder cards that people can hand out when they see rude public behavior. One seminar attendee said, "We don't realize our habits such as hacking and spitting are bad, and we don't think it's a big deal, that it will affect foreigners' opinions of Chinese people. After I listened to her speech, I was deeply moved and I will remind others if I find they behave impolitely." "I think I have benefited a lot," another attendee said. "I will change myself, and lead my friends to change together. I will educate my own child. I believe change depends on our action." Dr. Hedy Lee, a Chinese-American, takes an even more aggressive approach to China's manners problem: sue when your rights are violated. After moving into a wealthy Beijing neighborhood, she was appalled by her neighbors. She said, "I can't sleep half the time 'cause there are crazy dogs barking 24 hours a day, and the neighbor is growing eight kinds of crops next door, so there are all these bugs and fertilizer smell. I noticed geese & chickens next door, rooster croaking at 5:00 in the morning. I'm like, 'This is not good!'" Take'em to Court Lee has logged hundreds of official complaints and has had several court cases. "So far, I have sued seven companies and residents, and I have won six, lost one but am appealing that one - three more to go in 2007," she said. Despite nicknames like "the complaint queen" and "Don Quixote," Lee makes no apologies for her actions. "We need more strong people like me to hit them over the head in a way, and tell them to wake up and stop looking for excuses," Lee said. To some, changing the habits of the Chinese will be tougher than making an Olympic manners team. But Beijing is going for the gold in its effort to show the world it is worthy of the summer games.


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