February 8, 2007
China: Don’t Spit at the Olympics
BEIJING - No spitting and get in line. That's the message Beijing city officials are trying to get across 18 months before the Olympics open in China's capital.
"Everyone will be fined for spitting," read the headline in Thursday's Beijing Daily Messenger.
In a city of 15 million, jumping ahead in line is common. So is spitting and littering, which officials hope to restrain in an effort to improve the city's image.
Officials have announced a range of measures including "punishment and reward" programs to improve conduct.
One campaign for "civilized behavior" kicks off Sunday in the Wangfujing shopping area, located just east of Tiananmen Square. This will be the first "Queuing Day," which will take place on the 11th of each month.
The 11th was picked because the two numbers - 1-1 - resemble two people lining up.
Spitting could start to become costly.
People spitting could be fined up to 50 yuan, or $6.50. In Beijing, 50 yuan is the daily income of a Chinese college graduate. It can also buy 16 subway tickets on the Beijing system.
"Fifty yuan is a fairly hefty warning for spitters," said Zhang Huiguang, director of the Beijing Civil Affairs Bureau. "The amount of money is not the most important, the most important is to warn people."