Beijing to Punish ‘Uncivilized’ Public Behavior During Coronavirus Pandemic

BEIJING, CHINA - FEBRUARY 05: A Chinese couple wear protective masks as they walk during a snowfall in an empty and shuttered commercial street on February 5, 2020 in Beijing, China. China's stock markets tumbled in trading on Monday, the first day back after an extended Lunar New Year holiday …
Kevin Frayer/Getty Images

Beijing wants citizens to “dress neatly,” stop spitting and refrain from defecating in public places as it strives to eliminate “uncivilized” behavior amid the deadly Chinese coronavirus outbreak.

Rulebreakers will be hit with fines for those offences as well as not wearing a mask when ill, the municipal government announced Friday on its website, as it sought to improve standards of public hygiene.

The new laws require public places to set up one metre distance markers and to provide communal chopsticks and serving spoons for shared meals.

Citizens were cautioned on the  “dress neatly” requirement to end the practice of local men going shirtless in summer — an apparent reference to the so-called “Beijing bikini” practice where males of all ages roll T-shirts up to expose their stomachs in hot weather.

The state-run Global Times said the rule equalled a “total ban” of the practice in public places.

Beijing already discourages a range of “uncivilized” behaviours including public spitting, littering, walking dogs unleashed, throwing things from high buildings, public defecation and smoking in places where it is prohibited.

Now miscreants face the possibility of a fine as well as censure because Beijing’s new laws encourage police to report serious offences, which may affect a person’s social credit score — a fledgling system which aims to assess individual actions across society — though it did not provide more specifics.

This is not the first time the matter of public hygiene in China has been addressed during the coronavirus outbreak.

As Breitbart News reported, last month UK politician Nigel Farage pointed to the poor hygiene practices in China’s so-called “wet markets” as a contributing factor in the spread of the coronavirus.

He noted the “appalling hygiene conditions in Chinese wildlife markets” such as Wuhan’s so-called “wet market”, where “living, dead or dying creatures as diverse as bats, pangolins and other [creatures] are held in close proximity, their body fluids and all the bacteria, viruses and parasites they carry mixing and mutating in direct contact with human shoppers.”

Farage recalled how, initially, “China suppressed the truth about the nascent epidemic even among its own people, clamping down on whistleblowers delaying a global response by month, at the cost of thousands upon thousands of lives worldwide.”

“Isn’t it time we in the West had a grown-up conversation about China, beginning with the truth that several layers of the regime — from sanitary inspectors to secret police — are responsible for this nightmare?” he asked.

Earlier this month Australia added its voice to calls for China to address matter of public hygiene, also pointing to so-called wet markets reopening in the Chinese city of Wuhan, the source of the global coronavirus outbreak.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison demanded answers about the markets,  saying it was “unfathomable” for the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) to back live animal markets (open-air slaughterhouses) at a time when the pandemic is sweeping the world.

“I’m totally puzzled by this decision,” Morrison said, according to the Canberra Times.  “We need to protect the world against potential sources of outbreaks of these types of viruses.

AFP contributed to this story

Follow Simon Kent on Twitter: or e-mail to:


Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.