The municipal government of Beijing is considering designating some days to remind Beijingers to stop spitting in public. It will be days all Beijingers will have to observe by minding their manners.
Though the move is seen as being related to the upcoming Olympic Games, it deserves applause.
Public spitting is an obnoxious habit, and needs to be eradicated.
Last year, a survey based on the views of hoteliers across Europe showed that the worst tourist nation was France, followed by India, China and Russia. The Japanese were considered the world's best tourists for being polite and tidy.
Years ago a French city reportedly posted a notice that read: No Chinese Allowed Spitting.
Whether this is true or not, many of our country men and women have been guilty of this practice for a long time, both at home and abroad.
Despite continuous advise from medical staff, the fact that spitting in public was a health hazard really hit home when the SARS virus wreaked havoc in the country in 2003.
Guangdong province then introduced campaigns on making public spitting illegal. Fines are now imposed in Guangzhou, Shanghai and Beijing.
But the fines have not been strictly imposed. It is difficult to enforce the law when the spitters are many.
As a result, the anti-spitting regulations have had little effect.
In the late 19th century and early 20th century Western countries began to ban spitting in public in an effort to stop the spread of tuberculosis. They succeeded.
A reason for our habit, as some people say, is our weather, especially in North China where it is dry and sandy. But the southerners, despite experiencing relatively more moist weather, are no better than their northern counterparts.
We have to do something about this shameful habit of ours. We salute the Beijing municipal government's attempt to get rid of it.
We hope the new anti-spitting campaign will not be ignored by the people, as they have seemingly done, to other campaigns such as Tree-planting Day, World No Car Day, and World No Tobacco Day.
(China Daily, March 3, 2008)