A morning quickie – this is probably all over the China blogs right now but is too interesting to pass up – a post that translates Olympic propaganda posters teaching the Chinese people how to interact with outsiders flocking into the city in the weeks ahead. The 8 Don’t Asks will soon have quite an audience, having made it onto Yahoo’s top 5 stories today, which is where I saw it.
The 8th rule is particularly useful.
Lastly, there was one rule on a poster about proper behavior for commuters and pedestrians that seemed a bit odd:
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.
It sounds to me as if the people are being asked to mobilize into tactically advantageous walking formations, so as to maximize protection for women and elderly against rough and rowdy foreign hordes which will soon be threatening the safety of Beijing’s streets and sidewalks with unchecked groping and thieving. To sum up, it seems the message behind these posters is “Smile, but don’t let the foreigners get close.” Beijing welcomes you, indeed
To avoid any confusion and misimpressions, this post is not making fun of the Chinese people nor is it racist or hateful. This is a funny post (there are 7 more of these rules, so read it all), and the butt of the joke are the propagandists writing this drivel, not the Chinese citizens who pay their salaries. Your tax dollars at work….
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.