Thursday, March 08, 2007

Chinese Spitting

My daughter, currently in Beijing, writes of the city's inhabitants: 'They spit, CONSTANTLY. In the street, in taxis (one driver actually opened the car door to make sure his phlegm ... hit the ground with some serious force). And we're not just talking a polite (if that's possible) bit of spittle being produced over a dustbin as some of the better trained trained tramps of Mayfair are often keen to do. Over here it's a lung rattling, nasal blast that can echo for miles, probably days.' Why is this? Can any of my strangely silent Chinese readers explain?

14 comments:

  1. They are being politely educated in spitting and queuing etiquette in time for the olympics. And painting the grass green. Chiang Kai Chek tried this back in the 30's but it fell out favour with the Gang of 4.

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  2. I did read somewhere recently that the authorities in Beijing were conducting a campaign to educate their citizens about how to behave in public, prior to the anticipated influx of foreigners for the 2008 Olympics. Clearly, the campaign isn't working. I hope your daughter watches where she puts her feet.

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  3. Some things are best done discreetly and spitting is one of them. In fact, excretive activity of every kind is unwelcome in public in my view. It is a stark reminder of what lurks beneath. Although not in the same category, as such, eating in public is also rather unedifying at times. Put it this way, watching some people eat makes it harder to forget we are animals. Sorry, I'm a bit prudish when it comes to certain bodily functions.

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  4. They think it's good for them, spitting all the time. It is very much like
    America as described by Dickens.
    Darwin too was a spitter. Among the adornments of his study is a large
    cuspidore. Make of that what you will...
    n

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  5. River of deceitMarch 08, 2007 3:08 pm

    Maybe it's to do with the smog cloud over Beijing.

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  6. Perhaps it's part of the economic miracle that is modern China. They do everything better than us, including spitting.

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  7. I can't help with China, but as you may recall Bryan - in Japan, the Western handkerchief is feared and despised. Surely with good reason? It is regarded as a disgusting repository of unhealthy matter that, bizarrely, is retained to fester in the a Gaijin's pocket! A good, efficient gob is surely more hygienic? It is also fairly common in Islamic cultures which are obsessed with hygeine: in Malaysia for example.

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  8. I think the reply would be along the lines of "So let me get this straight: when English people get a mouth full of snot, they DON'T spit it out?"

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  9. I wonder how is the reflection on spitting in China related to your experience earlier in the day as a member of panel at RSA.

    (Spit 3 times for luck)

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  10. Shrewd, Rebel. Read about my reactions to that event in the Sunday Times News Review tomorrow

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  11. I have a neighbour who does this every night, just to wake me up. He is a disgusting filthy slit eyed dog. I sincerely hope China and its inhabitants sink to the bottom of the ocean.

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  13. I am a Chinese. There is no "why" on this issue. They just do it. We actually talk about it in China a lot too. Spitting is disgusting but you can't do anything about it. Most of the people in China were peasants living in near absolute poverty conditions not long ago. Most of the villages they live in didn't have any public service. Dirt roads, animals and their dungs everywhere. Spitting on the street (dirt roads) makes not difference whatsoever from hygiene standpoint. During the past ten years a lot of these peasants became city dewellers overnigh. However, old habits die hard. They are still peasants inside. What exacerbated this habit is the horrible air plution in chinese cities. I never felt I needed to spit when I grew up and when the sky was still blue back in China. So China and Chinese people are in a strange state rightnow. Think of Chinese spitting on the streets as the peasants living in dirty villages will make you feel a little less bewildered.

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  14. facts that u need to understand
    1. most chinese people in the city are from suburban or original from suburban (with cows and crops). they are farmers. so they spit whenever and wherever they want.

    2. most cities in china is not enforcing enought moral and public hygen educations. some places in china doesn't even have a TV. they wouldn't have a clue spitting can spread germs. and that's how dieases get spread out so quickly in china and 3rd world country.

    3. I am not from mainland China, I am from Hong Kong, we are taught from young age that spitting can spread germs and you might get a fine plus jail time. so not all chinese spits on the streets. it's just most chinese from mainland is poorly educated, so.. sadly to say, most of them are also corrupted.

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