A toilet – and therefore a tissue revolution – is underway in China.
Chinese president Xi Jinping has stressed the national imperative to upgrade China’s toilets in order to build a more civilised society and improve the hygiene of the masses.
He launched the “toilet revolution” in 2015, initially aimed at building better bathrooms at tourist sites. But the latest campaign is also about improving the bathroom experience for the domestic populations.
Xi has encouraged officials to continue to modernise tourist bathrooms while expanding the push to rural homes. Many country loos are simple pit toilets and lack plumbing.
“The toilet issue is no small thing, it’s an important aspect of building civilised cities and countryside,” Xi said in a front-page article in the People’s Daily, the Communist party mouthpiece. “This work must be a concrete part of advancing our country’s revitalisation strategy and we must make great efforts to fill these shortcomings that affect the quality of life of the masses.”
During Xi’s visits to the countryside he has often checked on the loos in rural homes to see if residents use pit toilets. At an important Communist party meeting in November he said meeting the public’s expectations for a better quality of life was the party’s main challenge.
“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 Lin, China project manager with the World Toilet Organisation, told the South China Morning Post.
The National Tourism Administration announced plans to build and upgrade 64,000 toilets between 2018 and 2020 as part of a plan titled Advance the Toilet Revolution Steadily. China’s tourism industry has already upgraded 68,000 loos in the past three years, or about 19% of its target, as part of “universally welcomed” renovations, according to state news agency Xinhua.
While the United Nations declared 19 November World Toilet Day, Chinese authorities took that one step further, branding the event “World Toilet Day and China Toilet Revolution Awareness Day”.