Chinese students get meal discounts for being polite

A view of the main entrance gate at Anhui Normal University Image copyright Wikimedia/Maomao De Rijiben
Image caption Students at the university have reportedly welcomed the incentive-based scheme

A Chinese university is offering students a 50% discount in its canteen if they show some common courtesy to staff, it's reported.

The new incentive has been implemented at Anhui Normal University in the eastern city of Wuhu, as part of campus-wide campaign to improve students' manners, the official provincial news site Anhui Online reports.

To qualify for the discount, which cuts the cost of a meal from 6 yuan ($1; 60p) to 3 yuan, students only have to utter niceties such as "hello", "please" and "thank you". Anyone who tells staff "You worked hard" will also be rewarded.

"Recently the school hosted a great discussion into how we could introduce ideas about etiquette, and we considered how to give the canteen an educational function," says university official Jing Fangming.

While the idea might be popular the world over with cash-strapped students, it hasn't impressed many users on Chinese social media. "I can't believe you actually have to use money to get basic etiquette," writes one on the Sina Weibo microblogging site.

One person says using politeness as a "bargaining chip" reduces its value, while another thinks it's a "tragedy" that civilised behaviour doesn't come naturally. And some aren't sure that rewards are the right approach, with one user asking: "Isn't this how you train animals?"

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