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China's Toilet Revolution To Punish Bad Bathroom Etiquette


BEIJING — It may be facing a major economic slowdown, a demographic crisis and widespread government corruption, but China has nevertheless found time to launch what we might call a "toilet revolution."

"Toilet civilization has a long way to go in China," Li Shihong, deputy chief of the China National Tourism Administration (NTA), tells state newspaper China Daily. Specifically citing tourists, the sweeping plan aims to root out bad behavior in public restrooms and bring facility standards up to the expectations of international travelers, the country plans to blacklist people who exhibit bad behavior in public restrooms.

"Many people spend a lot of time getting dressed, but they do not spare a second to flush the toilet," Shihong says.

A potential blacklist would target "uncivilized behavior," apparently modeling the NTA's efforts to publicly call out Chinese tourists traveling abroad who don't represent well — whether by getting drunk and unruly on flights or assaulting people. In fact, 16 Chinese tourists are currently listed on the NTA website for just such behavior.

Tens of thousands of new public toilets will be constructed, and old toilets will be renovated, for a total cost of more than 12.5 billion RMB ($1.9 billion). The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation have pledged to sponsor a contest for the most innovative waste and toilet designs from around China.

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An End To Venezuela Sanctions? The Lula Factor In Biden's Democratization Gamble

The Biden administration's exploration to lift sanctions on Venezuela, hoping to gently push its regime back on the path of democracy, might have taken its cue from Brazilian President Lula's calls to stop demonizing Venezuela.

Photo of a man driving a motorbike past a wall with a mural depicting former President Hugo Chavez in Caracas, Venezuela

Driving past a Chavez mural in Caracas, Venezuela

Leopoldo Villar Borda


BOGOTÁ — Reports last month that U.S. President Joe Biden's apparent decision to unblock billions of dollars in Venezuelan assets, frozen since 2015 as part of the United States' sanctions on the Venezuelan regime, could be the first of many pieces to fall in a domino effect that could help end the decades-long Venezuelan deadlock.

It may move the next piece — the renewal of conversations in Mexico between the Venezuelan government and opposition — before pushing over other obstacles to elections due in 2024 and to Venezuela's return into the community of American states.

I don't think I'm being naïve in anticipating developments that would lead to a new narrative around Venezuela, very different to the one criticized by Brazil's president, Lula da Silva. He told a regional summit in Brasilia in June that there were prejudices about Venezuela — and I dare say he wasn't entirely wrong, based on the things I hear from a Venezuelan friend who lives in Bogotá but travels frequently home.

My friend insists his country's recent history is not quite as depicted in the foreign press. The price of basic goods found in a food market are much the same as those in Bogotá, he says.

He goes to the theater when he visits Caracas, eats in restaurants and strolls in parks and squares. There are new building works, he says. He uses the Caracas metro and insists its trains and stations are clean — showing me pictures on his cellphone to prove it.

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