Courtesy of Nicki, I'd like to share with you an article about Beijing, and its attempts to go clean, orderly, and Chinglish-free for the 2008 Olympic games.
Here's an idea, China. Now, I know this is gonna sound crazy. I know, I know, it's nuts, but listen to me. No, listen to me. No, really. OK, ok, here goes: make this shit a permanent priority in your culture. Do it now, and do it forever.
Orderly lines, public decency like not smoking or spitting everywhere (and I don't mean polite, occasional "peh-tewey" little girl spits, I mean colon-clearing loogies that take loud ugly minutes to gestate), cleanliness, all that stuff. Hiding it all for a few briefs months during the Olympics isn't going to solve anything unless these habits are internalized, and not just policed for the games and then forgotten.
Wouldn't it be an all-around nicer China if people actually adopted these behaviors every day? If there were negative reinforcement all the time, everywhere in the country, to curb this foolishness? I may come from a society whose greatest contribution to Western culture ranks somewhere between Coke and iPods, but at least it's clean and orderly. You know, the way a civilization should be.
Don't give the world a false impression of yourself, China, don't hide who you really are. Movements to stop spitting wouldn't exist if people didn't already recognize it as ugly and stupid; you've taken the necessary first step in admitting the problem. So keep that crackdown going strong well after that torch has burned out, those medals have been draped on necks, and that last tourist leaves.