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Last updated at 15:07 BST, Thursday, 24 May 2012

Beijing cleans up its toilets


24 May 2012

Beijing city government has decreed that no public toilet should have more than two flies flying around at any one time. This is just one of a series of new rules set by the authorities to improve the city's public toilets.


Michael Bristow

A Chinese worker cleans up a toilet

A Chinese worker cleans up a toilet


Click to hear the report


Six city departments have put their heads together to come up with the new rules. They cover cleaning, the use of equipment and training for attendants.

No public toilet should have more than two flies buzzing around - although the regulations don't state how that's to be checked. There's also an ordinance covering what's confusingly referred to as "discarded items". There should be no more than two of these left in any public convenience.

The new standards also detail how smelly a lavatory should be. Most people who've paid a visit to a Beijing public toilet, know at the moment they're very pungent indeed.

Of course, there is a serious side to these new regulations. Many people who live in the city's old neighbourhoods still don't have their own toilet and have no choice but to use public conveniences. For them, these rules might make an unavoidable daily necessity, a touch more palatable.


Click to hear the vocabulary


put their heads together

discussed as a group


people paid to help the needs of others

buzzing around

moving about quickly creating a noise like an insect




collection of rules passed by authorities

public convenience

toilet used by anyone


unpleasant odour

paid a visit

gone to see something or someone


strong smelling


acceptable (smell or taste)

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