BEIJING (AFP) - Chinese people risk becoming foreigners in their own country because of an obsession with using English-only public signs in the run-up to the 2008 Olympic Games, state media reported Friday, quoting a lawmaker.

"Too many signs in public places carry only English information, leaving those who don't know the language puzzled and embarrassed like a foreigner in their homeland," Xinhua news agency quoted lawmaker Tu Yaqing as saying.

"Surrounded by the English language on billboards, guide posts, street name plates and traffic signs, sometimes we even cannot make out whether we are in China or a foreign country."

Tu said he was considering submitting a proposal to the current session of the national parliament demanding the preservation of Chinese on public signs.

Determined to burnish its image as an international city, Beijing has been encouraging taxis drivers, hotel workers and other residents to learn English in the lead-up to next year's Olympic Games.

The city has also launched a "smile" campaign to encourage residents to be more friendly and outgoing while campaigning against spitting, queue jumping and general rudeness and lack of courtesy.

But there has also been criticism of inaccuracies in written English, and the city government recently launched a campaign to improve the quality of translations and remove embarrassing linguistic gaffes.

Teams from the city government are touring the streets correcting street signs and rewriting restaurant menus.

Classic menu offerings, including "fried crap" "corrugated iron beef" and "cow bowel in sauce," are rapidly disappearing.

Also doomed are other linguistic offenders. Beijing's Park of Ethnic Minorities is signposted "Racist Park", while emergency exits at Beijing's international airport read: "No entry on peacetime."

Copyright 2007 Agence France Presse.