Shenzhen government proposes punishing “uncivilized” behaviour

Kevin McGeary , July 4, 2012 7:00am

Despite China’s 5,000 years of civilization, authorities in Shenzhen have decided that the public need yet more civilizing, according to local television. On June 1, members of the city’s Standing Committee met to discuss introducing punishments for 49 types of uncivilized behaviour, such as spitting, littering and smoking in public places.

Until July 6, citizens will be invited to give suggestions about what types of behaviour should be punished, and what appropriate punishments would be, Chinese-language media have reported.

The measures may be introduced throughout the country, and as always, Shenzhen is the guinea pig. There will be three polls before any laws are introduced. The first, which ends June 6, is aimed at receiving suggestions about which types of behaviour should be targeted, such as improper disposal of chewing gum, and throwing litter from vehicles or buildings. Forty-nine is the magic number, so there is plenty of room for people to have their pet peeves tackled.

Those of us who have a lot of experience in China know that tackling uncivilized behaviour here is a herculean task. On July 1, a man in Shandong Province embarrassed his fellow bus passengers when he castigated a migrant worker for smelling bad. Subways are also host to all kinds of inappropriate behaviour.

After last year’s earthquake in Japan, many Chinese observed the civility of the Japanese people and asked themselves why Chinese could not be that way.

So, which ill-mannered things would you want put a stop to?

Kevin McGeary

China hand, bawdy balladeer.