China tells police to shape up for Olympics

TUESDAY, SEPT. 4, 2007

BEIJING – Ahead of the Beijing Olympics, Chinese have been told to line up, use proper English and stop spitting. Now police are being told that slack behavior such as shooting the breeze or smoking could get them in trouble.

China is conducting a wide-ranging experiment in social re-engineering in the run-up to the 2008 Beijing Summer Games. The thinking is that anything less than upstanding behavior by officials and the public could reflect badly on the country as a whole.

“We will spare no effort to do a great job for the Games and beyond,” Beijing traffic officer Zeng Qinghui was quoted as saying by the official China Daily newspaper.

Members of the public are being encouraged to report officers they see smoking, eating or chatting on duty – all of which are regarded as “harmful to the image of the police,” the newspaper said.

Patrol officers will also be monitored on how they respond to requests for help from the public, along with the proper wearing of uniforms and badges, it said. The campaign will be focused on officers in the six cities, including Beijing, that will host Olympic events.

Authorities have targeted a wide range of perceived unflattering behavior ahead of the Games, including obscene chants by sports fans, jumping ahead in line, spitting, littering and reckless driving.

Beijing is adding thousands of surveillance cameras in and around Games venues, and city cab drivers are under pressure to learn some English, stop sleeping in their taxis and brush away the garlic – a key ingredient in Chinese cooking.

English signs on billboards, menus and storefronts are also being revised to eliminate nonstandard language.

Even with the cleanup, the Games are an enormous challenge to Beijing, which struggles daily with choking pollution and snarled traffic.

The city will ban at least one-third of its 3.3 million vehicles during the 17-day Olympics and close dust-spewing building sites and sooty factories.

Billions of dollars have already been spent moving heavily polluting industries out of town.


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