Asia Blog: China, Japan, Korea, Vietnam

Beijing’s “How to Interact with Foreigners” 2008 Olympics Propaganda

Posted in China, Culture by Elliott Back on July 22nd, 2008.

Posters are appearing in Beijing with etiquette instructions designed to smooth Chinese-foreigner relations during the upcoming summer 2008 Olympics. The series of three posters are great Olympics propaganda, combining Taoist courtesy with humorous anecdote and undecipherable Chinese caution.

Smile When Communicating with Foreigners

1) A Smile is Beijing’s Best Business Card — A Smile is the Whole World’s Propriety
2) Eight things not to ask Foreign Guests about:

- income or expenses
- age
- love life or marriage
- health
- someone’s home or address
- personal experience
- religious beliefs or political views
- what someone does

3) General Rules for Etiquette with Foreigners

- One’s manners and bearing, and image should be graceful
- Be neither humble nor haughty, but at ease and self possessed
- Seek commonalities while reserving differences, have reason and integrity
- Adapt to others’ customs, respect ethical code
- Abide by agreements, adhere to promises
- Be enthusiastic in moderation, foreigners are different from Chinese
- Be appropriately modest, be affirmed in yourself
- Do not ask private questions, respect others’ customs
- Ladies first, be gentlemanly
- Seat honored guests on the right, and get along harmoniously

Instructions for walking

When men and women are walking together, men should generally walk on the outside, and the person carrying things should normally walk on the right. Men should help women carry things, but must not help women carry their handbags. When three people are walking side-by-side, elderly should walk in the middle. Where there are many cars around, men should walk on the side of the sidewalk closer to the street. When four people are walking together, it is best to walk two-by-two.

Etiquette for Interacting with Handicapped Athletes

1) You should use polite and standard forms of address for handicapped athletes.
2) Try to keep as light as you can with handicapped overtones.
3) Pay attention to how you congratulate handicapped athletes.

Pay attention to avoiding taboo subjects, quit using bad platitudes, and do not use insulting or discriminatory contemptuous or derogatory terms to address the disabled. Say things such as, “You are amazing,” or “You are really great.” When chatting with the visually impaired, do not say things like “It’s up ahead,” or “It’s over there.” When chatting with athletes who are paraplegic in their upper body, do not say things like “It’s behind you.”

The posters appear to be created with the intent of warning Chinese not to be accidentally rude to the millions of international guests that will be arriving for the Olympics. Beijing has issued similar edicts before, warning Chinese not to spit in public, for example; these are more of the same. Those making the posters out to be instructions to avoid discussing “politically sensitive” topics are probably reading too much into them.

This entry was posted on Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 9:46 pm and is tagged with . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback.

One Response to “Beijing’s “How to Interact with Foreigners” 2008 Olympics Propaganda”

  1. [...] Elliott Back liste les sujets de conversation ou des gestes à éviter. [...]

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