Any place that has anything to do with the Olympics appears spotless these days. And that is thanks to workers like Guo-Hua Xiong, who uses a pair of wooden tongs to pick up small stray items, one by one.
The 43-year-old woman, who earns about $35 a week, picked up litter outside a towering Beijing office complex where tourists went to pick up their pre-paid Olympics tickets. Using her tongs to fetch cigarette butts, leaves and tiny scraps Wednesday afternoon, she seemed oblivious to the comings and goings from the offices of CoSport, the official Olympic ticket agency.
The mother of two, who originally lived in the countryside of Jiangsu Province, said she used to run a small store in Beijing, but business was too unpredictable. She prefers her cleaning job because of the guaranteed weekly wages, which sometimes go up if she gets extra hours.
Will she be watching Friday's opening ceremonies?
"It depends," she said, "if I have to work."