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 user 2005-05-17 at 10:18:00 am Views: 91
  • #9830

    China in Midst of Toilet Modernization

    It’s an image that Shanghai’s aggressively modern leaders want
    to shed: people rinsing out their chamber pots in alleys in the shadows of
    ultramodern skyscrapers. The city of 20 million, standard-bearer of communist
    China’s march into capitalism, is in the midst of a massive toilet
    modernization. It wants anyone without a toilet at home to have a public
    facility a few steps away, and offers a hot line for those who can’t find

    This month Shanghai hosted the World Toilet Expo and Forum in hopes
    of getting advice on how to spruce up its loos. “We have observed that the state
    of public toilets, especially men’s toilets, is not up to standard and poses
    quite a challenge,” Hong Hao, deputy secretary general of Shanghai’s city
    government, told the gathering.

    Finding a toilet has traditionally been
    simply a matter of following one’s nose.

    Until recently, most were
    unheated, open-trench affairs. Stalls were only waist-high, sometimes without
    doors. Running water was rare. Toilet tissue and soap? Forget about

    Now Shanghai says it has one toilet every 1,000 feet, with signs in
    universal symbols all over town showing the direction and distance to the

    The city has built thousands of new apartment buildings with
    modern plumbing, but in many older housing districts, chamber pots are used at
    night, then toted to the nearest public toilet to be emptied next

    Public toilets in choice tourist locations tend to be clean and
    well-maintained. Some are assigned one to five stars under a municipal rating
    system based on features ranging from quality of toilet tissue to such high-tech
    touches as automatic flushing. The best charge up to 50 fen (6

    Showcase public toilets include one in a suburban park designed
    to look, inside and out, like a grotto. Others have digital displays indicating
    how long each stall has been occupied. One Japanese restaurant, Hinotori, has
    goldfish aquariums beside the toilets and under the sinks.

    Though the
    city is promising the latest in high-tech, the exhibits at the expo were
    strictly utilitarian – no fancy sprays, fans or bottom heaters.

    But there
    were plenty of anti-bacterial tiles, water-saving urinals, diaper-changing

    “We’re showing only technology that makes sense,” said Dominique
    Facon, vice president for marketing at American Standard in Shanghai, as
    technicians demonstrated a toilet that easily handled 14 golf balls in one

    The most unusual exhibit was a $2,300 composting unit that
    inventor Andy Tung says uses as little as 100 pounds of sawdust a year to
    convert waste into smell-free, safe organic fertilizer.

    Tung said his
    company, Shinnichi Mechanical & Electrical Equipment Co., has installed
    trial versions in public washrooms in a Chinese city park, in an office building
    and in a Beijing residential district.

    The exhibition was sponsored by
    the World Toilet Organization, which represents cleanliness groups in 17
    countries and is based in famously tidy Singapore, which fines people who fail
    to flush public toilets.

    “Better toilets will bring more tourists,
    investments, lower public health costs, and increase the economic and spiritual
    well-being of the people,” the organization’s founder, Jack Sims, told the

    “Our happiness cannot be complete without a proper and
    pleasant toilet environment.”