February 8, 2008 / 10:18 AM / 11 years ago

Beijing boasts less spitting, better queuing

In this file photo a Chinese woman wearing a masks against SARS walks past a "Don't Spit" campaign poster in Shanghai May 16, 2003. Less spitting, better queuing and cleaner streets show Beijing has become more "civilised", but the city still has to fine-tune its etiquette to attain Olympic standards, Xinhua news agency said on Friday, citing a new study. REUTERS/Claro Cortes IV

BEIJING (Reuters) - Less spitting, better queuing and cleaner streets show Beijing has become more “civilised”, but the city still has to fine-tune its etiquette to attain Olympic standards, Xinhua news agency said on Friday, citing a new study.

China wants to leave nothing to chance when the eyes of the world turn its way for the Olympics in August and the Beijing government has waged a long campaign to hone manners.

Renmin University created an annual “civic index” three years ago to gauge progress, surveying thousands of residents and sending out teams of observers, Xinhua said.

The 2007 results all pointed in the right direction: 2.5 percent of people spat in public, down from 4.9 percent in 2006; instances of queue jumping dropped to 1.5 percent from 6 percent; and littering fell to 2.9 percent from 5.3 percent.

In the drive to reform behaviour, Beijing has instituted the 11th of every month as “voluntarily wait in line” day, distributed millions of etiquette pamphlets and threatened to detain boorish fans at sporting events.

But city officials cannot afford to let their guard down yet.

Beijing’s aggregate score in the civic index was 73.4 last year, still below the Olympics target of 80 points, Sha Lianxian, a sociology professor at Renmin’s University, told Xinhua.

Reporting by Simon Rabinovitch; Editing by Katie Nguyen

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