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Worker takes pride in upkeep

China Daily | Updated: 2017-11-30 07:12

Che Xueqiao is in charge of six public toilets in Beijing's Fengtai district, making sure people's visits are free of unpleasant smells and other discomforts. Two of the toilets were built last year, while the rest were converted from traditional dry toilets - basically open pits.

"Inspectors check the toilets every day, so I work hard to keep them clean," said Che.

Che's job is part of the so-called toilet revolution. In 2015, a three-year national campaign to increase the number and improve the sanitation of toilets at tourist sites began. The campaign expanded to improve public toilets in cities and build better private toilets in rural areas.

As of the end of October, more than 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) had been spent on the installation or renovation of 68,000 toilets at tourist sites, exceeding the original target of 57,000.

In a recent instruction for achieving the goals in the tourism sector, President Xi Jinping called the construction of clean toilets an important part of urban and rural civilization, and said more effort should be made in cities and rural areas to upgrade them.

At the 19th National Congress of the Communist Party of China, the Party promised to turn rural areas into "pleasant living environments".

The toilet revolution aims to equip rural homes with "sanitary" toilets of at least two square meters, with walls, roofs, doors and windows. They may be flush toilets or dry toilets with underground storage tanks.

Toilets in China's countryside have long been an issue. Some are little more than ramshackle shelters surrounded by cornstalks - a public health nightmare.

About 80.4 percent of toilets in the Chinese countryside are now "sanitary", up from 71.7 percent in 2012.

In urban areas, the revolution is focused on public toilets. In 2013, photos of Beijing Marathon runners urinating on the street went viral on the internet. Insufficient public toilets, or makeshift ones, the city became the biggest stain on an otherwise successful event. Nearly three years later, conditions are much improved.

"We sometimes dance and do our morning exercises around here, and the new toilets have made things more pleasant," said Liu Guoqiang, 62, who uses Che Xueqiao's toilets often.

Che is employed by Longrun New Technology, a private company specializing in human waste disposal. The company contracted with district authorities to operate public toilets through a public-private partnership.

Once a stay-at-home woman, Che now earns more than 5,000 yuan each month.

In a survey by the China National Tourism Administration, 80 percent of respondents said they had seen marked changes in the quality of the nation's toilets.

China plans to install or upgrade another 64,000 toilets at tourist sites from 2018 to 2020.



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