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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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Coronavirus

Xi's Burden, Why China Is Sticking With Zero COVID

Too much has been put in to the state-sponsored truth that minimal spread of the virus is the at-all-cost objective. But if the Chinese economy continues to suffer, Xi Jinping may have no choice but to second guess himself.

COVID testing in Guiyang, China

Cfoto/DDP via ZUMA
Deng Yuwen

The tragic bus accident in Guiyang last month — in which 27 people being sent to quarantine were killed — was one of the worst examples of collateral damage since the COVID-19 pandemic began in China nearly three years ago. While the crash can ultimately be traced back to bad government policy, the local authorities did not register it as a Zero COVID related casualty. It was, for them, a simple traffic accident.

The officials in the southern Chinese province of Guizhou, of course, had no alternative. Drawing a link between the deadly crash and the strict policy of Zero COVID, touted by President Xi Jinping, would have revealed the absurdity of the government's choices.

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