Australia's 'queen of etiquette' teaches 'good manners' to Chinese

June Dally-Watkins is teaching 'good manners' to the Chinese after discovering there was a market for teaching Western etiquette.

CHINA (REUTERS) - At 90 years old, June Dally-Watkins will put anyone's manners to the test.

That is what brings the former model to China, where squatting on the side of the road, eating with your mouth open, even picking your toe nails in public does not batter an eyelid.

"In the past years I've seen Chinese behaving badly; if you know, the lift comes up and the Chinese get in before anybody can get out; the way they hold their knife and fork; the way they eat. But, I see it changing," June said.

And she may have a lot to do with it. June first brought etiquette classes to China three years ago.

Starting in the southern city of Guangzhou, her four-day crash course quickly expanded across the country to meet soaring demand from a growing middle class eager to behave like the elite.

For US$5,400 (S$7,300) a head, June puts students through their paces.

From table manners, to how to stand and sit, even hug properly.

One is never too old to learn etiquette.

Wang Lijuan is 65 and travelled over a thousand miles across China for the course.

"It seems like in recent years many of the good qualities are lost, disappeared from our young generation," said Wang.

Many of June's students in China are keen to travel abroad.

And in the words of the queen herself "they want to be the best they can be and I think that's what China wants now".