Xi Jinping

China’s public bathroom blitz goes nationwide as Xi Jinping rallies forces in the ‘toilet revolution’

President calls for overhaul of public facilities in bid to improve living standards

PUBLISHED : Monday, 27 November, 2017, 5:03pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 November, 2017, 5:14pm

China is taking its multibillion-yuan “toilet revolution” nationwide as the door closes on a three-year bathroom blitz at tourist sites.

Chinese President Xi Jinping said public toilets throughout the country – from rural villages to urban areas – should be upgraded to help improve living standards, Xinhua reported on Monday.

“Toilet issues are not petty matters but an important aspect of improving infrastructure in urban and rural areas,” Xi was quoted as saying.

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In his report to the Communist Party’s national congress report last month, Xi said satisfying the public’s desire for a decent life was the administration’s main challenge.

In 2015, China started a three-year campaign to improve the standard of public toilets at tourist sites across the country.

In April that year, Xi said upgrading toilet facilities was integral to improving conditions in China’s tourism industry.

As of last month, more than 68,000 public toilets had been refurbished, 20 per cent more than the original target, according to Xinhua.

The overhaul was backed by more than 1 billion yuan (US$152 million) in central government funding and over 20 billion yuan from local authorities.

To mark World Toilet Day on November 19, the National Tourism Administration pledged to erect another 47,000 toilets and refurbish 17,000 others over the next two years.

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Rural toilet standards had been a major focus of Xi’s field trips across the country since coming to power in 2012, Xinhua said.

The filth, stench and primitive conditions of many of China’s public toilets have long been an source of anxiety and horror for tourists from developed countries, tarnishing a tourism industry that generated about 3.9 trillion yuan last year from more than 4.4 billion domestic and foreign visitors.

Bai Lin, China project manager with the World Toilet Organisation, said the toilet revolution was driven by a desire to boost tourism, but hygienic toilets were essential to the wider public.

“There is still a yawning gap between China’s strong economic development and people’s standard of living. A beautiful environment and hygienic toilets are essential to a good standard,” Bai said.

While building new toilets and upgrading others, China also needed to work on waste treatment, with sewage threatening the country’s vulnerable underground water system, he said.

“Public toilets in many second and third-tier cities in China’s central and western regions, especially rural townships and villages, are not connected to pipelines and waste is allowed to seep into the ground,” Bai said.

He said China’s toilet coverage was good compared to other Asian countries, but its waste water processing was still not up to international standard.