Video: China works to prevent cultural faux pas              

updated 7/31/2008 6:28:34 AM ET 2008-07-31T10:28:34

Polishing up Beijing for the Olympics has extended to telling residents what not wear, with the city government advising against too many colors, white socks with black shoes, and parading in pajamas.

The advice, on top of campaigns to cut out public spitting and promote orderly lining up, was handed out in booklets to 4 million households ahead of the Olympics, an official said Thursday.

The etiquette book giving advice on everything from shaking hands to how to stand is part of a slew of admonitions on manners, said Zheng Mojie, deputy director of the Office of Capital Spiritual Civilization Construction Commission.

"The level of civility of the whole city has improved and a sound cultural and social environment has been assured for the success of the Beijing Olympic Games," she said.

There should be no more than three color groups in your clothing, the book published by Zheng's committee advises, and wearing pajamas and slippers to visit neighbors, as some elderly Beijing residents like to do, is also out. It recommends dark-colored socks, and says white socks should never be worn with black leather shoes.

In the last few years the government has educated people on how to prepare for the Olympics under the slogan: "I participate, I contribute, I enjoy."

Measures such as a ban on spitting in the capital city, which started in 2006, and the introduction of a day to show a little more patience in lines — on the 11th of each month — have paid off, Zheng said.

Rules on lines, stance, handshakes, cheers
Campaigns involving nearly a million volunteers have been launched to give etiquette tips at schools, universities and government offices. In some districts university students have been encouraged to go to villages to educate rural people, she said.

"Such campaigns and educational activities are now gradually improving the lives of Beijingers, for example now you'll find more smiling faces and people are more properly and elegantly dressed," she said.

People have formed a habit of queuing for buses, she said. At more than 1,000 bus stops in the city people are queuing up, she said. "This has already become a habit for the Beijing citizens," Zheng said.

The book advises that there should be no public displays of affection, feet should be slightly apart or in the shape of a V or Y when standing, and a handshake should not last more than three seconds.

Don't ask foreigners their age, marital status, income, past experience, address, personal life, religious belief or political belief, it says.

Another book, published in April, details how to be a good fan when watching Olympic competitions, saying spectators should cheer all teams, and accept that a victory or loss is temporary whereas the impression of the culture inside a sports venue lasts forever.

Copyright 2008 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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