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Beijing's public toilet staff to learn English
Updated: 2004-12-12 09:09

China's capital Beijing plans to require attendants at its public toilets to speak basic English in a bid to improve the services provided to foreign visitors, state media said.

It is part of an ambitious campaign to raise the standards of public loos in the city of 13 million as it gets ready to welcome thousands of tourists for the 2008 Olympics, the Beijing Morning Post reported.

The paper did not specify the level of English toilet staff need to possess, but said they must in future also be proficient in sign language.

It made no mention on whether they planned to train the workers, or leave them to their own devices.

Beijing is emerging as an actor to be reckoned with in toilet science, recently hosting the World Toilet Summit, a gathering of urban planners and environmental experts.

It said earlier this year it would spend 400 million yuan (US$48 million) to provide enough public toilets to make everyone happy.

The report of the sweeping new construction plans came after a previous announcement that Beijing would reduce the number of public toilets from 7,700 to 4,700.

The overall goal, to make public toilets available within a tolerable eight-minute walk, will partly be met by ordering restaurants, shops and hotels to offer their facilities for free.

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