Chinese Toilets with Wi-Fi
Wi-Fi, ATMs and turbo-flush toilets:
China reveals its latest high-tech restrooms which could soon become commonplace
By Cheyenne MacDonald and Tracy You for Mail-on-Line
China is working hard to overhaul its public sanitation system, and it’s updating toilets with Wi-Fi, television screens, and even ATM machines. People don’t usually like to linger in public restrooms; in China, with the squat toilets, shortage of toilet paper, and sometimes unsanitary conditions, the bathroom experience can be daunting. Now, high-tech restrooms could turn public toilet-use into a more enjoyable situation. High-tech toilet developments could give Chinese bathrooms a new reputation. China is working hard to overhaul its public sanitation system, and it’s updating toilets with Wi-Fi, television screens, and even ATM machines. According to The New York Times, China will be renovating or constructing 57,000 public bathrooms, and some of them will be equipped with high-tech gadgets. In Fangshan, a new public facility has turbo-flushing powers in the toilets, along with wireless internet and TV screens in the stalls. The windows are lined with aloe vera plants, and a cello soundtrack plays in the background. The first new-generation bathroom opened to the public in November, in front of the government offices of the Fangshan District in south-west Beijing.It will even conserve water, recycling sink water to flush toilets. The event was timed to celebrate the ‘World’s Toilet Day,’ which falls on the same day, and is a part of the first ‘China Toilet Revolution Propaganda Day. For many years, China has suffered from sanitary issues in its public bathrooms. In poorer communities, 14 million people must defecate in the open. ‘Change is certainly needed,’ Lu Suisheng told NYT. ‘In some Chinese toilets, people need to step on bricks to avoid stepping on dirty areas. How can you use toilets like that?’
According to the noticeboard displayed outside of the building, the spacious beige-tiled restroom has 11 different sections, including male toilets, female toilets, unisex toilets, accessible toilets, baby-changing facilities, an e-commerce area and an ATM room. The entire area has available Wi-Fi and there are vending machines selling different type of soft drinks. Each toilet or urinal is equipped with a flat-screen TV set nearby for entertaining the user. In Fangshan, a new public facility named ‘The Fifth Space,’ has turbo-flushing powers in the toilets, along with wireless internet and TV screens in the stalls. The windows are lined with aloe vera plants, and a cello soundtrack plays in the background.
The efforts to clean up the public restroom are received well by many, but some residents argue that the technological additions are a waste of money that could be put to better use elsewhere. Others argue that these new gadgets in the restrooms will lead people to spend unnecessary time on the toilet and force others to wait.
Toilet users can also buy drinks from the vending machines (left) and pay their utility bills using a multi-purpose phone. The efforts to clean up the public restroom are received well by many.
Charging stations have been installed outside the building so that customers can leave their electric bikes to be powered while answering the call of nature. It seems designers hope the new facility will be a meeting point for residents away from home and work. A spokesman from Beijing Environmental Sanitation Engineering Group told the People’s Daily Online that they hope the new public restroom will become ‘the fifth space’ besides the family space, work space, leisure space and cyber space. Hence, the sign of the restroom will be changed from ‘WC’, a traditional sign for public toilets in China, to the number ‘5.’
And even all the functions above are not enough in Beijing’s ambition toilet revolution. The spokesman said: ‘We will learn Japan’s experience to provide basic physical examination in the restrooms, such as blood pressure, heart rate and urinalysis.’ More of these ‘The Fifth Space’ toilets are due to open on the outskirts of Beijing soon – in Fangshan, Tongzhou, Shunyi and Pingu districts – as well as other Chinese cities, including Guiyang, Haikou, Kunming and Zhangjiakou.
THE PUBLIC SANITATION PROBLEM
- The new bathrooms are cleaner, but some argue they are a waste of money
China will be renovating or constructing 57,000 public bathrooms, and some of them will be equipped with high-tech gadgets. Toilets in China, often squat toilets or concrete pits, have remained unchanged for generations. Between 1990 and 2010, China updated facilities for 593 million people, but the changes did not extend to everyone. For many years, China has suffered from sanitary issues in its public bathrooms. In poorer communities, 14 million people must defecate in the open. Many people are now arguing that unnecessary additions, like TVs, are a waste of money that could be used instead to update the facilities in poor areas.