In a major diplomatic breakthrough, the mainland has invited Taiwan to take part in a WTO summit to be held in Beijing this month. It will be the first time the mainland has hosted the annual World Toilet Organisation summit. The organisation has been staging the summit since it was formed four years ago with the aim of globally promoting the importance of hygiene. 'The toilet is a kind of diplomacy,' said WTO founder Jack Sim, who hailed the participation of Taiwan. 'Politically things are tense, but socially people from across the Taiwan Strait are interacting ever closer, and the toilet is something that's important to everyone.' Frank Wu Ming-hsiu, architecture professor and founder of the Taiwan Toilet Association, will represent the island at the summit. He said he felt privileged: 'The public toilet is the face of a nation; it directly reveals a nation's living and moral standards.' Top of the agenda for this year's summit, which will be held from November 17 to 19, will be access to toilets as a basic human right, and a universal code of practice for designing and maintaining public toilets. 'They all need to talk about it - 2008 is the year of the Beijing Olympics and the city needs to boost [the quality of] its public toilets and to showcase them to the world,' said Mr Sim, who is also head of the Restroom Association of Singapore. 'Today, about 2.4 billion people [around the world] do not have access to even a simple latrine. Human waste heavily pollutes many rivers and lakes in developing countries - it is the main source of water contamination.' The Beijing Tourism Bureau and the deputy mayor's office are sponsors of the summit, which bills itself as a magnet for 'key decision makers, top officials, and movers and shakers of the industry'. 'With the re-election of [US President] George W. Bush, the world will be going down the drain,' said a top municipal official who requested anonymity. 'We couldn't have picked a more opportune time.' The summit will also showcase a major seminar and exhibition titled 'The Toilet - the Past, Present and Future of Public Toilets in Beijing'. 'You might want to skip the past and present, but we all look forward to the future,' said an organiser. WTO's World Toilet Expo and Forum will be held in Shanghai next May.