A senior resident scans her face for toilet paper at a public restroom in Nanjing. Photo: Xinhua via CFP
A senior resident scans her face for toilet paper at a public restroom in Nanjing. Photo: Xinhua via CFP

Nationwide innovations in toilet technologies are transforming the once notorious public toilets in China with appalling sanitary conditions in a nationwide “toilet revolution”, spearheaded by Chinese president Xi Jinping.

“Toilet revolution” is now a buzzword in China.

Tourists may be very surprised when they walk into a toilet and are greeted with piped-in music, decorations including green plants and even a smart management system, Xinhua reports.

Some are equipped with deodorizing agents, automatic toilet seats or electronic bidets, and users can even watch ads, film trailers or charge their phones while answering the call of the nature.

Toilet paper is also free, but more often than not toilet rolls get stolen. But some municipal governments have sought help from technology to deal with this problem.

Rather than installing CCTV cameras inside toilets, which would ensure privacy concerns, facial recognition systems are now in use at toilet entrances.

To get free toilet paper, all one has to do is look at the camera, which will scan a face and hit the confirm button. The same users won’t be given any paper if they return to the same toilet within an hour to prevent theft and the waste of paper.

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Some newly-built public restrooms in China also have well-decorated foyers. Photo: Xinhua
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Clean mirrors and sinks are also part of China’s toilet revolution. Photo: Xinhua
Toilets in China are getting cleaner, but most are squat toilets. That’s not good news for foreign visitors. Photo: Xinhua

In 2015, the China National Tourism Administration launched a three-year action plan to revolutionize toilets. By the end of 2017, about 70,000 toilets at tourist sites were built or renovated. This year, 24,000 restrooms are planned to be built, renovated or upgraded, and in the next three years, 64,000 new ones will be constructed at tourist sites across the nation.

Under the campaign, the southwest Tibet Autonomous Region and northwest Qinghai province have adopted biological ways to process water at tourist sites in remote and plateau areas.

Xinjiang and Ningxia have introduced automatic flushing and washing facilities as well as biological technologies for water processing at tourist sites with scarce water resources.

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