Planet China

Toilet Humour

This week Haikou, a city in Hainan Island, annnounced that it had established a no-fly-zone. No, this isn’t an escalation of tensions in the South China Sea. But certainly it looks like the start of some serious one-upmanship in municipal hygiene.

Haikou’s no-fly-zone pertains to its public loos and it comes only days after Beijing’s local government announced it would now tolerate only two flies per public convenience.

Newspapers and netizens have since been lampooning officials for adopting a ‘Great Leap Forward’ mentality when it comes to public bathroom hygiene. During that traumatic historical period, provinces tried to outdo another in agricultural output and steel production to curry favour with Chairman Mao. Now, it’s all about which city can guarantee the fewest flies in its public toilets.

“Who cares if it is one fly, two or even three, this is not the 1960s,  just do something about the smell,” one Beijing-based Sina Weibo user wrote.  The capital has over 5,000 public toilets and in the case of hutong dwellers they may be the only bathrooms they have.

An unidentified official quoted in The Beijing Daily defended the rule, saying that counting flies was a “visual, convenient and common” way to judge a toilet’s condition. But that didn’t stop the jokes: “Management guy sees two flies go into a toilet. He hangs a very small sign on the door of the lavatory. It states: ‘Occupied.’”


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