In addition to grand concrete venues for the 29th Olympic Games, Beijing is busy with an immaterial project -- to trim its residents' behavior for the event.
The time left for possible improvement seems not enough, though there are still more than two years before the event comes.
A recent survey report showed that booing and even using dirty words by audiences to show their discontent with the performance of players is one of the most irritating bad manners that tarnishes the image of the capital.
Beijing audiences are notorious for such impolite expressions of disappointment and dissatisfaction at sports games.
Other bad habits listed in the report include spitting, littering, violation of traffic regulations, and jostling passengers on buses.
City managers worry these uncivil behaviors will also bring shame to the capital or even to the nation if exposed to foreigners in 2008.
The online survey sponsored by the Beijing municipal committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, the Beijing Morning Post and Sina.com covered more than 10,000 respondents.
Worry of a lack of etiquette topped game organizers' major concerns after the city was selected as the host of the Games in 2008 by the International Olympic Committee in 2001.
Some critics warned that to refine residents' manner is more an imminent task for the city than the construction of event venues.
When the World Snooker China Open was held in Beijing in March this year, foreign competitors and judges were stunned not only by Chinese dark horse Ding Junhui's victory over Stephen Hendry but also by some of the audience who took pictures with their flashlight on or talked loudly on their mobile phones.
Beijing mayor Wang Qishan once said that the most troublesome task for the city in preparing for the Games is the improvement of its residents' manners.
"I really worry whether the audience will stand up when the national anthem of another country is played, or whether Chinese athletes will be greeted with applause if they lose a game," the mayor said.
The city made a three-year plan in the summer to promote among its residents knowledge of the games and audience etiquette.
More than 200,000 pamphlets were printed to teach residents, who can also find similar teachings in cartoons, short soap operas and other performances on stage or on TV.
The education campaign has also expanded to occupational protocols and everyday behaviors.
Even the use of chopsticks, inherent in Chinese culture, has become part of the education campaign. There is both art and taboo in the using of the traditional Chinese table ware, but critics say today's youngsters know little of them.
The city is also working on a research to find measures which can help improve its residents' manners, said vice mayor Zhang Mao earlier this month.
Some local legislators and netizens proposed imposing severe punishments on offenders.
"But it is by no means a day's labor to get rid of all the bad habits of all the residents who have them," said Jin Yuanpu, a professor of humanities at Beijing-based People's University of China.
The professor said that Beijing should take the chance of hosting the Olympic Games to demonstrate the shining part of the tradition of China as a nation with a long history.
The occasion, however, is no panacea, said Jin. "It will be a long process for the people to pick up the civility that the ancient nation once boasted."
(Xinhua News Agency October 31, 2005)