Thursday, 17 July 2008

At what price clean toilets?

Ahead of the Olympics, Beijing has been cleaning up its toilets.

Readers may have noticed that I'm very sceptical about everything that I hear about China. I lived there for six months and, suffice it to say, it's not my favourite country.

Going to the toilet in China is not very pleasant. Public roadside toilets do not have doors; they are long deep pits with a trickle of water in the bottom ineffectively attempting to push along poo, nappies, cigarettes and sanitary napkins. Over this pit you hover while bemused Chinese people stare at you. Not fun.

Having said that, China has the best provision of toilets of any country I've visited when it comes to volume. In Suzhou, where I lived, the main street has toilets every 200 metres. Even the back street along the canal, which I would take when I just couldn't handle the busy main road anymore, had pit toilets in little concrete houses regularly along the route. No doubt the pits emptied into the canal, and no doubt the fish sold in the market came from the canal - but that is an issue for another blog. I never ate fish in China.

Beijing has spent $57million on cleaning up the streets and toilets. While I think it's wonderful that these toilets have finally been cleaned, I know that the shitty work was probably done by poorly paid (even by Chinese standards) migrant workers, people who are displaced, whose children cannot attend school, whose homes are being demolished to make way for new highways and buildings. Check out http://china.hrw.org to see the human rights abuses that are occurring in China to make sure that we all have clean toilets for the Olympics (and then try to tell me that sport should be beyond politics).

Another thing I read on that Russian site (it's very reputable!) is that only tall beautiful girls (beautiful by Western standards, I imagine) will serve athletes and tourists. I'll leave the tirade against that ridiculousness to someone better qualified (Rayedish?).

1 comment:

Warren 'The Bathroom Man' said...

Looking at the state of the bathroom pictured above i'm guessing i wouldn't be a big fan of the toilets in China...anyway with regards to amount of money spent on regenerating these around beijing...thats great!