Uncivilized behavior is becoming a real embarrassment for Beijing ahead of the 2008 Olympics.
Beijing's ambition to open more parks free of charge to the public has simply added more venues for some visitors to display their uncouth behavior.
Last month, more than ten parks were added to the free parks list, bringing the number of free parks to 123.
Several foreign visitors left Ritan Park disappointed on Sunday afternoon because they could not find a place to sit - all the benches in the park were taken up by men lying full-length, blissfully snoring the afternoon away. Ritan Park is a popular park in the Beijing embassy area.
The Beijing government has launched a campaign to promote civility among Chinese travelers as a response to negative publicity garnered by Chinese tourists' behavior overseas. The campaign will last until after the Olympic Games.
"We celebrated the two year countdown to the Olympics just a couple of days ago and the TV and newspapers are all talking about civilized behavior, but look at this," said an old man who is a regular visitor to Chaoyang Park.
He was upset to see Chinese visitors at the park standing on relics taking pictures. "There are so many foreigners here and we are losing face," he said.
Carving names, spitting, talking loudly and random littering are common scenes in Beijing parks.
"We've seen more people carving their name since the park abandoned admission fees," a worker in Honglingjin Park was quoted as saying by China Youth Daily. "We cannot be there to monitor visitors all the time. They have to discipline their own behavior."
The official campaign, launched after "gathering public input on how travelers should behave", was based on guidelines drafted by "expert groups" and Party and governmental departments.
Civil servants and state company executives will be specifically targeted for training, while the general public will be educated via the mass media and through pamphlets distributed at public transport stations, hotels, travel agencies, tourist spots, schools and work places.
In addition to 250,000 foreign tourists, China expects that over two million domestic tourists will visit Beijing during the Games.
(Xinhua News Agency August 22, 2006)