China cleans up its toilets to boost tourism

This article is more than 12 months old

BEIJING: China's President has ordered the country to march on in its "revolution" to clean up notoriously dirty and foul-smelling public bathrooms in a bid to improve quality of life and boost tourism.

The so-dubbed "toilet revolution" was launched in 2015 to make restrooms, often squat toilets with no paper, more tourist-friendly.

President Xi Jinping said the toilet problem "is not a small thing" and cleaning up is necessary to create a "civilised" environment, state news agency Xinhua reported yesterday.

The country expects to add or upgrade more than 70,000 toilets by year-end.Another 64,000 will be built or enhanced between next year and 2020, the National Tourism Administration has said in an action plan.

According to Xinhua, since taking office in 2012, Mr Xi has made a point during rural visits to ask villagers whether they did their business in flushable toilets or pits dug in the ground.

"In rural areas, some toilets were little more than makeshift shelters surrounded by bunches of corn stalks, and some were open pits next to pigsties," the agency said.

China's "squatty potties" arouse fear in some would-be tourists, with several tourism blog posts dedicated to the subject.

Its public bathrooms have also been known to be bereft of toilet paper, thanks to crooks sneaking out entire rolls for personal use. Facial recognition is now employed in some places to limit individual toilet paper portions.

Internet users applauded the remodelling movement on microblogging site Weibo.

"Support the toilet revolution," one user wrote. "Whether it is in a city or the countryside, when nature calls, it is a hassle to find a decent bathroom." - AFP