Serial spitters face eviction from Chinese flats complex


ASK MOST foreigners visiting China what habit they find most annoying and they will invariably say spitting. The pressure on the spitters is mounting, however, amid growing concern about hygiene and health issues.

A housing scheme in the southern city of Guangzhou is now considering a system which could see frequent gobbers kicked out of public housing.

As part of a public code aimed at improving behaviour in public, the government is considering introducing a rule that would see serial spitters at a low-income housing complex facing eviction.

The Guangzhou land resources and housing management bureau said tenancy would be terminated if the tenant recorded too many “misdeeds” within a two-year period.

Throwing away fruit peel, spitting out chewing gum, gambling and urinating in public are also on the forbidden list, and the plan is modelled on a similar scheme in nearby Hong Kong. This is the first time any such measures have been taken on the mainland.

Public spitting is rare in Hong Kong and Taiwan, but the sound of throats being cleared and hefty deposits of phlegm hitting the pavement remains a common phenomenon in mainland China.

Many people, especially older people, believe that clearing the tubes is the most efficient way to avoid getting sick.

There have been repeated government campaigns to disabuse people of misconceptions about spitting; these have accelerated during recent health scares about Sars in 2002 and more recently swine flu.

Not everyone agrees with the plan, however.

An editorial in the local New Express Dailysaid that if it was the duty of the government to provide housing to lower income people, then the government should not abandon this duty simply because of the moral level of tenants.

Chen Lin, director of the real estate research institute at Guangzhou University, suggested that for misdeeds such as spitting, a warning might be a more useful action.