Beijing to launch English emergency services aimed at expats, authorities say

Efforts being made to improve English services and signs in drive to make the capital more accessible to foreigners before it hosts 2022 Winter Olympics

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 5:01pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 17 July, 2018, 5:01pm

Beijing will soon launch a multilingual emergency services hotline so expats will be able to speak to an English-language operator, the local health authorities announced on Monday.

Foreigners in need of emergency medical help, fire services or the police will be immediately transferred to a third-party English-language operator if they do not speak Chinese, according to the Beijing Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning.

It represents an attempt to internationalise the city’s health services to cater towards its estimated 140,000 expats.

The commission added that hospital signs will be made multilingual, and medical services such as consultations and doctor registrations will be offered in English.

Farewell to ‘Chinglish’? China cracks down on bad English on public signs

To run the hotline, the commission has said it will train “high-level foreign language talent” through local institutions such as the Beijing Language and Culture University, and may add further languages including Japanese and French.

Beijing has been cracking down since April on signs that use incorrect English or “Chinglish”, with the help of volunteer spotters, the state-backed Xinhua news agency reported.

China bans new companies registering ‘Chinglish’ names

The services are part of a drive to make the city more accessible to foreigners ahead of the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

In December, the Chinese government introduced national guidelines for the use of English on public signs, including standardised translations for 3,500 commonly used phrases for public information.