Still a lot of spitting

Friday, February 8, 2008 at 21:35 | Posted in China | Leave a comment

The citizens of Beijing have improved their manners, Reuters reports. A study shows that the Chinese government’s campaign to make Beijingers behave bares fruit but not enough:

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.

These results do indeed reflect a trend towards better but baring in mind that the population of Beijing is, according to Wikipedia, 17,4 million, there is still quite a lot of bad behaving. 2,5 percent spitters amount to 435.750 spitting Beijingers. Although queue jumping appears to have decreased to a quarter of what it used to be, a tourist could still be passed by one or several of 261.000 queue jumpers. 504.600 litterers still make an awful mess.

Campaigning for decent manners is admirable and the results are impressive. That said, I wonder if bad manners could not be opposed more effectively by introducing democracy and promoting civil rights. All that spitting, queue jumping and littering could just be a sign of a hidden protest which people would not have to turn to if they had freedom of speech, freedom of assembly and uncensored Internet.

Just a thought. A silly thought, admitted.


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