Plastered around Beijing are posters advising locals about how to (not) interact with foreigners visiting the capital city for the Games. The "Eight Don't Asks" instructs: Don't ask about income or expenses, don't ask about age, don't ask about love life or marriage, don't ask about health, don't ask about someone's home or address, don't ask about personal experience, don't ask about religious beliefs or political views, don't ask what someone does.
So what else is there to talk about?
Here are eight questions Chinese locals have asked me*, which I believe should actually concern the government:
1. Why are you so black?
2. Do you only eat meat?
3. Pink means gay, right?
4. Have you seen Japanese porn? Japanese people are freaks!
5. Could you move your bag so it covers your stomach?
6. Is her boob big because she is Mongol?
7. Do you want to drink the snake blood?
8. Do you know Obama? I don't like black people.
Maybe it's just me, but I would rather that Beijingers ask me about my salary and love life. In fact, I'm begging for the innocence and almost-charming curiosity of the "Eight don't asks." To deny Chinese locals the right to ask the equivalents of the most elementary conversation starters "What do you do?" and "Where are you from," as you'd hear at any cocktail party in the West, the officials may be inviting a whole new set of questions that definitely don't fall under the category of 'minding one's manners.'
* Note: I may get the blunter of questions because I am of Chinese descent. At a market, for example, a saleswoman would say to me, "That won't fit you." To a white person, she'd say, "That won't fit you. I sorry."