|The "Unisex Toilet" refers to a special facility that can be used by all family members, including different genders. [China Women's News]|
China National Tourism Administration, on December 6, 2017, issued an action plan on the building and managing of bathrooms at tourist sites in China during the next three years. More than 47,000 bathrooms will be built at tourist sites in China between 2018 and 2020. More than 17,000 bathrooms at tourist sites will be reconstructed or expanded during the next three years. According to the plan, more gender-neutral and women-only bathrooms will be constructed, and the ratio of women's toilet cubicles to the men's toilet cubicles will be no less than three to two.
As an important part of urban and rural civilization, clean toilets have been in short supply in many Chinese communities for years due to historical reasons. And the demand for public conveniences has surged in recent years as China's tourism industry booms, which is why Xi has long stressed the importance of upgrading public toilets to enhance the quality of the tourism industry.
From 2004 to 2013, a total of 8.27 billion yuan ($1.27 billion) was appropriated to build toilets in the poorest parts of the country. As of the end of 2015, around 75 percent of rural homes had flush toilets or dry toilets with underground storage tanks at least two square meters in size with walls and a roof.
Toilets in the countryside and at tourist sites used to have a bad reputation. In rural areas, some toilets were no better than makeshift shelters and some were open pits next to pigsties. Tourists, too, often had to use such basic toilets and suffered the poor hygiene conditions due to the lack of sanitation workers.
By the end of October in 2017, China had installed or renovated 68,000 toilets at tourist sites across the country, 19.3 percent more than the expected number. It also plans to deal with another 64,000 toilets at scenic spots between 2018 and 2020, according to an action plan issued by the China National Tourism Administration.
Still, there is a long way to go in fulfilling people's increasing demand for better lives. For the nationwide toilet revolution to bear fruit, consistent and tailored efforts are called for. On the one hand, the long-term prosperity of China's tourism sector partly depends on relevant facilities, including public toilets. On the other hand, it is important to clarify that the seemingly trivial toilets also matter a great deal to the quality of rural life.
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