The mainland's tourism chiefs have unveiled their latest weapon in a bid to attract more foreign visitors to China with their sought-after tourist dollars. For years Beijing technocrats have been burning the midnight oil as they search for the goose that would lay their golden egg. The Great Wall, Summer Palace, Terracotta Warriors - China appeared to have it all. And that was part of the problem. China has seen visitor numbers grow over the years as the country opens its doors to foreign investment. Mainland officials recently noticed that figures had started to plateau but believe they have now got to the bottom of the mystery. Visitors to the region expect the usual language barriers, safety issues, health concerns and taxi-drivers. Everyday problems for the adventurous globe trotter. However, even the hardiest traveller baulks when faced with that obstacle to unrequited relief that is so much an everyday part of life in China - the squat toilet. The modern squat toilet can trace its history back 5,000 years. Archaeologists recently uncovered the bathroom facilities that catered for the entire royal household of Emperor Qing. Fortunately they were able to get the lid back on before anything escaped. In their basic form, the toilets offer all the advantages of the latest in superbly ventilated, cost-effective, self-draining apertures, or 'a hole in the garden' as they are sometimes referred to. However, for the unsuspecting tourist the squat toilet presents a logistics problem worthy of a Nobel Prize. It is all a question of 'How?'. There is no clear front and back and there is no obvious means of support (apart from the flush down-pipe which can be grabbed hold of when facing the wall should the user begin to topple). Some unwary loo-users have been known to attempt to sit on the thing placing their hands where the feet should be! So, the authorities have launched the mobile toilet. Available in a range of colours and stocked in many leading department stores, the mobile toilet is expected to plug the leak in China's dwindling tourist numbers. There is even talk of a major advertising campaign abroad, featuring celebrities sitting on mobile toilets in their favourite locations under the slogan 'Where Would You Put Yours?'. Government sources have hinted that leaders may each receive a different coloured seat to sit on at the traditional photo call at the end of next year's Apec meeting. According to China's Minister of Public Lavatories and Porcelain, trials of the mobile seat have gone well. 'I was able to get through a report on flushing water irrigation in Tianjin and the crossword in the People's Daily,' the minister said. 'In fact, I'm talking to you now from the Glorious Municipal Public Toilet Cubicle Number Two in the Great Hall of the People . . .' Errr, yes, thank you minister. As with any successful product in China, copies of the mobile toilet have already begun to make their way on to the market. Authorities have warned that use of an unlicensed mobile toilet in a government-controlled convenience is illegal and could prove hazardous. The warning follows the discovery of 3,000 mobile toilets with only three legs at a factory just outside Guangzhou. A Hong Kong businessman is reported to be helping police with their inquiries but only after he has had a hot bath with lots of soapy water. If the mobile toilet proves a success, tourism chiefs say they expect to launch the Chairman Mao mobile toilet-roll dispenser at the end of the year.