China's "Toilet Revolution"
In 2015, Chinese President Xi Jinping launched a “toilet Revolution”, a national push for urban and rural civilization.
Aimed at boosting domestic tourism and improving public hygiene, the three-year campaign has totaled over 3 billion USD in “installing or renovating 68,000 toilets at tourist sites, exceeding the target of 57,000 toilets”.
Under a new three-year plan issued in January by the China National Tourism Administration (CNTA), the state pledges to promote a new round of toilet revolution. The goal is to push the reform “down-to-earth.”
According to the head of CNTA Li Jinzao at the national tourism work conference, the deepening of coverage from scenic city areas to every corner in the village is crucial to “improve the quality” of reform.
On the other hand, the target is to not only build 47,000 more toilets, refurbish 17,000 existing ones, but also modernize the serviceable space of the toilet by developing ad hoc scientific networks between the urban and rural communities.
On a practical level, to make spatial transformation an integral part of the “Toilet Revolution” is to multiply the functions of toilets through scientific means. Among others, the communal space will house electric charging stations, ATM machines, and be fully covered with internet service.
In his report to the annual "Two Sessions," Xi pointed out that the principal contradiction facing Chinese society in the new era has become “the contradiction between unbalanced and inadequate development and the people’s ever-growing needs for a better life”.
In the 1980s, former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping defined the contradiction to be one between the people’s material cultural needs and backward production forces. Since Xi announced his “new period of socialism with Chinese characteristics,” he has deemphasized the importance of GDP growth while encouraging a sustainable model of economic development. To an extent, redefining the principal contradiction within Chinese society has roots in what the country hopes to achieve under specific historical conditions.
In light of this theoretical development, the integration of a multifunctional toilet into the public space is directly linked to a technique-transformation emphasis on rural economic reforms.
The massive shift of labor force in China’s agricultural sector from farming to other professions and trades has transformed the modes of rural production. According to Xi, the regeneration of rural life must be discovered in the “organic combination” with the efforts to eradicate poverty. In other words, the revitalization of stagnant rural economies depends on an institutional renovation of the ways in which rural life is organized.