City officials want to erase Chinese-style English from public places so foreigners will not be confused by Beijing's use of the language before the 2008 Olympics. Native English should replace non-standard English, according to the Beijing Citizens' Foreign Languages Organisational Committee, the Beijing Morning Post reported yesterday. This effort and a larger city-wide foreign language education project aim to ensure that foreign visitors can understand signs and talk with the locals. The committee, which met on Tuesday, wants to change gaffes on public signs in airports, train stations and streets. It also aims to improve signs in English at museums, tourist sites, major hotels and exhibition halls. Smaller places, such as public toilets, will be targeted later. Over the next two years the committee will consult volunteer experts to establish exactly what constitutes standard English. Committee office manager Liu Yang said businesses would be encouraged to adopt better standards and firms displaying signs with bad English would have to replace them. 'This is a very big project,' Mr Liu said. 'It's going to be long term.' Travellers often come across examples of the mistaken use of English on temple walls, restaurant menus and hotel toiletry packaging. Many native-English speakers are amused by the more embarrassing mistakes, especially on official signs. They also called city authorities to report mistakes, such as some spotted last year on Beijing's major expressways, Mr Liu said. Another example can be seen in every metered taxi in Beijing. The driver registration card states: 'Welcome to take Beijing taxi.' Errors often occurred because sign writers hesitated to ask experts or native speakers for help and instead inserted English words into Chinese-language sentence structures, said Zhang Tianxin, a reporter with Beijing Weekend, an English-language magazine for foreigners. The Weekend employs a native speaker to edit articles. But Zhang said English levels were improving, especially in Beijing, as more mainlanders travelled abroad and met foreigners. 'China has now become an active participant in international events such as the Olympic Games. It has also entered the World Trade Organisation,' Zhang said. 'If we have so many errors, can China still be considered an active participant?' Samantha Keiragh, an Australian editor of English-language scripts at China Central TV, said foreigners should appreciate the efforts to use better English. 'When you see these errors it highlights how difficult it is to communicate in a different language,' Ms Keiragh said. 'It shouldn't be seen as an embarrassment.'