China: Cleaning the Toilets and Stopping the "Nose-Clearing"

Anyone who has been on a trip to China outside of Shanghai knows that Chinese plumbing standards are not quite up to those of the West (and neither are the bathroom fragrance dispensers). Granted, as a world business traveler, I consider these sorts of things par for the course when going to low-cost sourcing regions, but when it comes to hosting the Olympics, these types of standards don't quite fly on the global stage. That's why, according to Earth Times, Beijing "city workers have been laboring at ensuring public facilities have flushable toilets, ventilation and are clean ... officials say it's 5,580 public toilets down, and 1,000 to go in its modernization campaign." And to get ready for the Western microscope, "City health officials have also mounted a campaign asking residents to stop the common practice of spitting and nose-clearing on sidewalks."

Last year, when I ventured to China to visit a number of manufacturing operations, I observed this "nose-clearing" business process -- and even tried it myself -- but unfortunately, my wife and personal hygiene consultant broke me of this habit when returning to the West. Still, if you want some handy tips for what to expect culturally when visiting a rural Chinese facility -- let's face it, Shanghai is now more civilized than most cities in North America, so it does not count -- I'd suggest reading a previous post of mine on the subject on what to expect and how to prepare.

Jason Busch

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