In advance of welcoming the world to Beijing, the Chinese government has waged an all- out clean-up etiquette campaign. It has been going on for three years and the “civic index” that was created and since monitored by Renmin University has shown promise in the forward direction. This article details the results of millions of etiquette flyers dropped on crowded locations, detaining boorish fans at sports events and the incredible push towards civil behavior in all realms of life in China. Thanks to the Olympics being held there, the Chinese people are learning the necessary skills of civility to compete with the world in other capitalistic ventures.
When I first visited Peiking (now Beijing) in 1972 with my family, there were few standards of behavior that I witnessed that were remotely as gracious as the ones I was learning as an American teenager. When I revisited in 1985 and 1989 the trend was still not swinging towards expected graciousness and proper etiquette as expected by Western business. However, as I teach my students, etiquette differs in different cultures and tolerance is necessary to get along without losing opportunity for relationships.
With the knowledge that China will be one of the lead stories on worldwide news channels every day for a month before and all during the games, the Chinese have to be commended for the efforts that they have taken on to make sure that their visitors have not only a wonderful sports experience but also take away the impression that China is ready to get along with everyone. It is in the “getting along” that etiquette plays its important role and I for one am glad to see that they are taking into consideration Western etiquette to make their guests comfortable. I hope that visitors will enjoy the warmth of the people and the richness of their culture and history.
But… I also hope that visitors take etiquette lessons before they go and show off how civil their countrymen can be. From my personal experience working in 102 countries over the past 25 years, etiquette lessons need to be learned by most of those I met. Relationships, business, social encounters, sporting events, travel, and whatever else occupies one’s life are all enhanced in a very positive way by taking care of the other person like you would like to be taken care of yourself. I can’t wait to see how it all works out at the Olympics this summer. In the meantime, I continue to offer classes and private consultations to those who desire a savvier life.