China Parliamentary Sessions 2015

Chinese frenzy for buying toilet seats in Japan on official agenda as ‘revo-loo-tion’ goes on

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 03 March, 2015, 3:38pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 March, 2015, 9:58am

Chinese people’s fascination for buying toilet seats in Japan shows no sign of abating as reporters quizzed a government official about his own buying habits at this week’s annual plenums.

Japanese toilet seats – including hi-tech versions with in-built heating and warm water shower functions – were the “must-have” item on the shopping lists of Chinese travellers during Lunar New Year, Japanese media said.

This news, reported by South China Morning Post last week, prompted Xian Sanhua Ryoji Electrical Appliances, China’s largest manufacturer of electronic toilet seats, to respond by claiming that its products were just as good as those from Japan.

Today Shao Qiwen, chairman of the National Tourism Association, was questioned on the subject by reporters at the third session of the 12th national committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC).

Shao, who is also a representative on the CPPCC, responded that he had never bought a toilet seat from Japan himself.

He said Chinese tourists preferred buying the product in Japan, rather than from mainland shops, because of a range of factors, including high consumption taxes and tariffs on the imported products, issues of quality, value for money and marketing.

However, the quality of Chinese products would improve as the mainland focused on enhancing the designs, quality, manufacture and marketing of the nation’s consumer products.

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Shao also responded to questions about news that a temple in Thailand was planning to build a toilet block reserved for non-Chinese tourists after complaints about the dirty, unhygienic state of its toilet after being used by mainland tourists.

Officials at Wat Rong Khun, or The White Temple, in Chiang Rai, said there had been a number of complaints about inconsiderate Chinese tourists.

Shao told China National Radio that the complaints referred to an isolated incident.

However, he said he and his staff would be working hard to ensure the behaviour of all mainland tourists abroad improved from now on.

China is undergoing a toilet “revo-loo-tion” with plans to build 33,000 new toilets and upgrade and expand 24,000 existing toilet facilities by 2017.

Officials aim for toilets in all of the nation’s tourist attractions, travel routes, transportation hubs, and restaurants and recreational venues in tourist areas to reach an acceptable standard.

The campaign to improve its domestic public conveniences started in January following many complaints from tourists.

Officials have admitted that China’s toilets were “dirty, messy, substandard and insufficient”.