Cultural Dos and Donts during Olympics in Beijing

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Don’t ask a tourist’s age or wage, steer clear of sex and avoid religion: what many Chinese consider idle chit-chat has now become the latest area of censure in Beijing as it prepares for an influx of Olympic visitors.

Posters displayed on bulletin boards in the neighbourhood which includes tourist magnet the Forbidden City, and which will host Olympics boxing events, counsel locals against a wide range of potentially awkward conversation topics with foreigners.

The list of “eight don’t asks” was issued by the Dongcheng district Propaganda Department as a guide for locals about how to show proper hospitality, a department spokesman said.

“Don’t ask about income or expenses, don’t ask about age, don’t ask about love life or marriage, don’t ask about health, don’t ask about someone’s home or address, don’t ask about personal experience, don’t ask about religious beliefs or political views, don’t ask what someone does,” the Olympics logo stamped poster advises.

Several etiquette guidelines have already been issued in the run-up to the Games, as China prepares to put its best foot forward with a faultless event.

The government has campaigned to curb queue-jumping, spitting, littering and even speaking loudly in public, fearful such behaviour could mar Beijing’s image.

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