Salute passing cars, students told in Chinese town


New York : Students at a Chinese town have been told to salute each passing car while on their way to and from school, a media report said.

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The students at Luolang Elementary School in southern China know the rules — do not run in the halls, take your seat before the bell rings, raise your hand to ask a question.

And “salute every passing car on your way to and from school”, The New York Times reported Sunday.

Education officials encouraged the saluting edict to reduce traffic accidents and teach courtesy to the children. Critics, who have posted thousands of negative comments about the policy on China’s electronic bulletin boards, have a different opinion.

“This is just pitiful,” wrote one in a post last year.

Education officials say compliance is strictly voluntary. Asked whether they follow it, elementary students here tend to burst into nervous giggles, the NYT said.

The rule’s purpose is twofold: to keep children safer on the county’s corkscrew mountain roads and to teach manners. Nearly 30 schools are located along roads without sidewalks or speed bumps.

Long Guoping, deputy chief of the county education bureau, said those measures were coming. “Little by little, the government is installing them,” he said.

In the meantime, the salute “might avoid some accidents”, he was quoted as saying.

“It allows the drivers to notice the children and the children to notice the drivers.”

Luo Rongmei, who teaches first grade at Luolong Elementary School, said: “Since they started saluting there has not been one traffic accident.”

Often, the skewering gets results. In April, one county in Hubei Province in central China drew ridicule after officials ordered civil servants and employees of state-owned companies to buy 23,000 packs of the province’s brand of cigarettes every year.

Departments whose employees failed to buy enough cigarettes or bought other Chinese brands would be fined, the media reported.

County officials said the increased revenue from the cigarette tax would buoy the local economy. After several weeks of embarrassment, Gongan County officials posted a short message on the government’s website that read: “We have decided to remove this edict.”

Another county in Guizhou Province in southern China compelled state workers last year to help inflate the number of tourists visiting the ruins of an ancient village. Every government office was ordered to organise field trips to the site so the county could report 5,000 visitors within two months.

The involuntary visitors had to take several buses to get to a village 30 km from the county seat. From there, they hired motorcycles to carry them another 15 km down dirt roads, the newspaper Guangzhou Daily reported.

The Guizhou Commercial News reported that some government offices were left unattended while state employees served as tourists. The next month that order, too, was repealed.