Chinese get guide to polite conversation

When in doubt, don't ask. That's the etiquette message being transmitted to the people of Beijing ahead of the Olympics next month – sex, religion, age and wage are all taboo when it comes to dealing with foreign tourists. The propaganda department of the city centre Dong-cheng district has issued a list of "eight don't asks" as a guide to showing hospitality.

"Don't ask about income or expenses, don't ask about age, don't ask about love life or marriage, don't ask about health, don't ask about someone's home or address, don't ask about personal experience, don't ask about religion or politics, don't ask what someone does," the poster reads.

Dongcheng district is home to some of the city's top tourist sites, including Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. It is also the location of the Beijing Workers' Gymnasium, the boxing venue for the Olympics.

The campaign is the latest stage in efforts to improve behaviour ahead of the games, which run from 8-24 August. With the eyes of the world on the Chinese capital, the organisers want to showcase China as a modern international city. Half a million tourists are expected in Beijing for the games.

The measures have included a campaign to stop people jumping queues, spitting, littering and also speaking loudly. Certainly the campaign has improved manners on the streets – there has been a big reduction in the amount of loud throat clearing and hawking, for example.

This was proven by Renmin University's "Civilised Behaviour Index", which rose to 73.08 last year from 65.21 in 2005 as people spat and littered less.

Earlier this month was the final "queuing day", the end of a two-year campaign, which took place on the 11th day of each month to improve manners and encourage people to stand in line in public places such as bus stops and train stations.

Taxi drivers have been told not to sleep in their cabs, to change their shirts regularly and say "thank you" and "bye bye".

But there have been teething troubles along the way. In May, Beijing organisers had to apologise for a training manual issued to thousands of Olympic and Paralympic volunteers following complaints about inappropriate language used to describe disabled athletes.

And there were few signs of politeness when the last Olympic tickets went on sale yesterday – police struggled to control crowds of more than 50,000 people, and a Hong Kong journalist at the scene was detained.

Protesters are told where to go

Those wanting to protest at the Beijing Olympics will have to do so politely and while confined to one of three specially constructed "protest pens".

The zones are designed to, "ensure smooth traffic flow, a nice environment and good social order," insisted Liu Shaowu, security director with the organising committee.

He refused to say whetherprotesters had to abide by the usual strict laws in China, which require them to apply for permission five days in advance. Mr Liu said the zones would be set in three parks in the capital, which are all more than six miles from the games venues. The Olympic charter bans any kind of protest at venues used by the games.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Advisor

£15000 - £16000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Advisor is r...

Recruitment Genius: Plant Fitter - Construction Industry

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This well established construction equipment d...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: Factory Operatives

£7 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This high quality thread manufacturer ba...

Day In a Page

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn
Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

Yvette Cooper: We can't lose the election. There's too much on the line

The shadow Home Secretary on fighting radical Islam, protecting children, and why anyone in Labour who's thinking beyond May must 'sort themselves out'
A bad week for the Greens: Leader Natalie Bennett's 'car crash' radio interview is followed by Brighton council's failure to set a budget due to infighting

It's not easy being Green

After a bad week in which its leader had a public meltdown and its only city council couldn't agree on a budget vote, what next for the alternative party? It's over to Caroline Lucas to find out
Gorillas nearly missed: BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter

Gorillas nearly missed

BBC producers didn't want to broadcast Sir David Attenborough's famed Rwandan encounter
Downton Abbey effect sees impoverished Italian nobles inspired to open their doors to paying guests for up to €650 a night

The Downton Abbey effect

Impoverished Italian nobles are opening their doors to paying guests, inspired by the TV drama
China's wild panda numbers have increased by 17% since 2003, new census reveals

China's wild panda numbers on the up

New census reveals 17% since 2003