THE state of China’s smallest rooms is no small matter. So said Xi Jinping, the Communist Party’s general secretary, in statements carried prominently by state media last month. For three years national and local authorities have been busily scrubbing up the country’s public lavatories, an effort the party has dubbed the “toilet revolution”. Having hit the programme’s original set of targets, Mr Xi is requesting another push.
In the past few decades China has done a fairly good job of supplying basic sanitation. Only 2% of Chinese still do their business in the bushes, compared with 40% in India; three-quarters have access to toilets which the World Health Organisation deems acceptable, up from less than two-thirds in 2000. But about 70m still use shared facilities, and 260m continue to rely on bucket loos, open pits and other grungy facilities. Some are literally lethal: last month police traced a huge blast in the port city of Ningbo,…Continue reading