Rudeness in China Now Against the Law

One of the most remarkable things about traveling through a communist country, or a recent post-communist country, is how unbelievably rude shopkeepers can be. “Service with a smile” is a completely foreign concept in these parts. Instead, you get scowls, poor service, and a surly wait staff.

The Chinese city of Beijing is no exception, according to a recent article in The Boston Globe. I saw a little bit of this when I visited 12 years ago, but apparently the service industry has gotten much worse in recent years. It has become so notorious, in fact, that Beijing’s municipal government has now passed legislation requiring better service from the city’s shopkeepers and wait staff. Those who glare angrily at customers, make sarcastic comments, or simply do not smile are at risk of breaking the law.

The catalyst for such legal action is the upcoming 2008 Olympics. Beijing is the host city and officials want its citizens to live up to the traditional obligations one normally expects from a host.

Now if they can only stop people from spitting on the sidewalks…