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Anti-spitting Teams Collar 56 in Beijing
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More than 50 people in Beijing were fined for spitting during the weeklong May Day holiday, officials in charge of the city's image have said.

Five inspection teams from the capital's management department and civilization promotion office spent the week patrolling the downtown Wangfujing pedestrian area, Tian'anmen Square, commercial centers and railway stations to stop people from spitting, littering, posting advertisements or writing graffiti.

By Sunday, 56 people had been fined for spitting, the teams said.

The officials also handed out more than 10,000 bags to tourists, reminding them not to litter.

As part of its preparations for next year's Olympics, the government has been keen to crack down on public displays of bad habits, such as spitting, and saw last week's holiday as the perfect opportunity to apply some new rules.

The China National Tourism Administration recently issued a circular, making travel agencies and tour guides responsible for the behavior of their charges during the holidays.

Queue jumping, spitting, littering and clearing one's throat loudly in public are some of the frequently observed practices of Chinese people, according to a guideline prepared and released last year by the Spiritual Civilization Steering Committee (SCSC) of the Chinese Communist Party, the official etiquette watchdog.

Huang Xiaohui, a tour guide with a Beijing-based travel agency, said: "We are supposed to remind people constantly throughout the tour, and also lead an etiquette discussion at the end of it. The Olympics are coming, and we don't want to be disgraced".

Beijing has launched several campaigns to improve English signs, stop people spitting and improve manners for the Olympics. It has also designated one day a month as "Learn to Queue" day.

Some taxi drivers and hotel workers are also receiving etiquette and English lessons.

(China Daily, Xinhua News Agency May 8, 2007)

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