Drive to 'civilize' Beijingers progresses: survey

(China Daily)
Updated: 2007-12-20 07:42

Beijing's officials are upping the ante on citywide campaigns to curb residents' bad habits ahead of next year's Summer Olympics.

Littering, cutting in line, foul language and spitting in public are being targeted.

Zheng Mojie, deputy director of Beijing's capital ethics development office, the official etiquette agency, said: "Hosting the Olympics is not only about building grand stadiums.

"As tens of thousands of foreign visitors are expected to flood into the country next summer, both its positive and negative sides will be amplified. So we must change these bad local habits," she said.

Millions of brochures that describe "proper" conduct have been sent out to the public, while training courses are being offered to all civil servants and those working in the service sector, including cab drivers, shopping assistants and bus conductors, she said.

The 11th of each month has already been designated "Lining Up Day", she said. The date symbolizes two orderly lines and encourages residents waiting for public transportation to wait in line politely.

Those caught spitting in public face a fine of up to 50 yuan ($6.80), while spectators behaving badly at sports events risk being taken to task by the authorities.

"We are happy at the progress that is being made, our efforts are beginning to pay off," Zheng told Xinhua.

The campaign to rid Beijingers' of their bad habits followed a year-long study by a team from the Renmin University of China. Conducted between November 2005 and November 2006, the poll covered 10,000 local residents and 1,000 foreigners who had lived in Beijing for more than two years.

Researchers also gathered information from 230,000 people at 320 public venues and in 180,000 private cars.

The survey showed that the occurrence of littering in public had dropped from 9.1 percent in 2005, to 5.3 percent last year, while the incidence of cutting in line had fallen from 9 percent to 6 percent.

According to the team's "civic index", which takes into account such things as complying with rules in public places, public order, attitudes towards strangers, behavior while watching sports events and willingness to contribute to the Olympic Games, Beijingers saw their score rise from 65.21 in 2005, to 69.06 last year.

"We expect the index to have risen again when the 2007 report is released," Zheng said.

However, the index score still falls short of the standard required for the 2008 Olympics, Renmin University sociology professor Sha Lianxiang said.

Etiquette official Zheng admitted it is was a challenging task to raise the civility of society as a whole.

"There is a saying that it takes three generations to bring up a noble, so I can't guarantee that impolite behavior will be eradicated in time for the Olympics," she said.


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