The Wall Street Journal reports on the Chinese government’s energetic effort to improve the quality of its citizens:
Beijing officials have distributed 4.3 million copies of an etiquette book outlining rules on good manners and foreign customs, including rules about what not to wear. The guide is part of an effort by various departments within China’s government to clean the city up in preparation for the at least 400,000 foreign visitors who are expected to descend on its capital for the Olympic Games, which start Aug. 8.
Among the no-no’s: more than three color shades in an outfit, white socks with black shoes, and pajamas and slippers in public.
“No matter what, never wear too many colors…especially during formal occasions,” the book said. “When you wear [formal shoes], be sure to wear socks in good condition…socks should be a dark color — never match black leather shoes with white socks.”
“Older women should choose shoes with heels that aren’t too high,” it said.
The book, published by the Beijing Municipal Government’s Capital Ethics Development Office, is part of the department’s effort to make Beijing more “civilized,” officials said.
Along the same lines, Beijing authorities announced earlier this year that they would step up efforts to fine people who spit in public as much as 50 yuan ($7.33).
Other guidelines range from the obvious to overly specific. Public displays of affection aren’t acceptable, for example. In a section about escalators and elevators, the book said people should place their hands on escalator railings to avoid falling. It then addresses a pet peeve of many in Beijing: “When entering an elevator…let people walk out before you enter,” it said. It goes on to say riders should look only straight ahead and never stare at other passengers.
It also warns readers of the “Eight Things Not to Ask” foreigners, including their age, marital status, income or religious and political beliefs.
It sounds like the woman who wants to create government programs to help people “quit smoking, to get more exercise, to eat right, to take their vitamins” has found her niche.
Of course, you might suspect that the idea to require taxi drivers to wear uniforms came from John McCain.