Page last updated at 16:49 GMT, Monday, 21 July 2008 17:49 UK

Beijingers told to mind their manners

By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

A queue at a railway station in Hefei, Anhui province, at the end of June
Queuing is to be encouraged, say authorities

Beijing citizens have been told not to pick their noses, yawn or scratch their heads when talking to foreigners during the Olympics.

They have also been given a list of things not to ask overseas visitors - a list so exhaustive it could make conversation difficult.

Ordinary people have also been given detailed instructions on how to talk to disabled people during the Paralympics.

Chinese officials want ordinary people to show the country's most civilised face during the sporting events.

A booklet prepared by the propaganda department of Beijing's Dongcheng District gives locals an introduction to the games.

It has a special section on dealing with foreigners, including what to do when talking to overseas visitors.

'Wear a smile'

"In conversation, wear a smile, don't stare too long or do anything to make people feel ill at ease," it says.

The booklet advises Beijing people to say to disabled people such things as: 'You're really excellent'
It also warns Beijing people not to yawn, shout, pick their noses, scratch their heads, play with their fingernails or pull at their clothes while talking.

The booklet suggests people abide by the "eight don't ask" principle when talking to foreigners.

Subjects to avoid include what foreigners earn or how much they spend, how old they are, whether they are married and whether they are healthy.

Also off-limits are questions about where foreigners live, where they have worked, their religious or political beliefs, or what they are currently doing.

In the booklet, propaganda chiefs remind Beijing citizens to be careful when being interviewed by foreign journalists during the Olympics, which begin on 8 August.

It tells them not to say or do anything that harms national prestige, the country's image or national security.

Queuing day

Beijing officials are obviously concerned about how disabled people will be treated during the Paralympics, which takes place just after the Olympics.

"Before you help [a disabled person], first of all get their agreement and co-operation. Absolutely do not use force or be too enthusiastic," says the booklet.

It advises Beijing people to say to disabled people such things as: "You're really excellent".

Officials have long been concerned about their own citizens' behaviour during the Olympics, and have launched several campaigns to stamp out bad habits.

The 11th day of the month was designated queuing day, instituted to convince people not to barge onto buses and trains.

These campaigns are generally supported by ordinary people.

"The queuing campaign definitely helps people to behave better," said Yang Xiaoyan as she waited to board a train at Beijing Yonghegong Temple subway station.

"In the past it was really chaotic at this subway station," she added.

Queuing, crossing the road, driving a car, watching Olympic events and talking to foreigners: Officials want to make sure everyone does it right.

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