Red Wired: Chinas Internet Revolution


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Fed up with the theft of toilet paper from public bathrooms, tourist authorities in China's capital are using facial recognition technology to limit how much paper a person can take. The unusual move — part of a "toilet revolution" — is another step in China's vast upgrading of public facilities. Bathrooms at tourist sites, notorious for their primitive conditions and nasty odours, are a special focus of the campaign, a response to a vast expansion in domestic travel and demands for better quality facilities from a more affluent public.

At Beijing's year-old Temple of Heaven, administrators recognised the need to stock the public bathrooms with toilet paper, a requirement for obtaining a top rating from the National Tourism Authority. But they needed a means of preventing patrons from stripping them bare for personal use — hence the introduction of new technology that dispenses just one centimetre section of paper every nine minutes following a facial scan. But if we can provide it in every toilet, most people will not do it anymore," Zhan said.

Launched two years ago, the revolution calls for at least 34, new public bathrooms to be constructed in Beijing and 23, renovated by the end of this year. Authorities are also encouraging the installation of Western-style sit-down commodes rather than the more common squat toilets.

Red Wired- Chinas Internet Revolution ebook by Sherman So

The ultimate target, Mr Zhan said, "is to have a sufficient amount of toilets which are clean and odourless and free to use". At Happy Valley, the largest amusement park in Beijing, around 4 million annual visitors rely on 18 bathrooms, each of which is assigned one or two cleaners who must make their rounds every 10 minutes on busy days.

Going a step further, the financial hub of Shanghai even opened its first gender-neutral public toilet in November in order to boost convenience and efficiency. Mr Zhan said the toilet revolution was about 90 per cent complete, but warned that it was yet to be won. Topics: health-policy , human-interest , science-and-technology , computers-and-technology , china , asia , pacific.

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First posted April 03, If you have inside knowledge of a topic in the news, contact the ABC. ABC teams share the story behind the story and insights into the making of digital, TV and radio content. Read about our editorial guiding principles and the standards ABC journalists and content makers follow. Learn more. Kangaroos come from a family of animals that evolved millions of years ago in Australia and today they grace our coat of arms. But just how much do you know about this national icon? Farmers say they should be able to make enough money to look after themselves. But as they contend with one of Australia's worst droughts, it's set to produce a billion-dollar welfare bill as taxpayers help keep them afloat.

Later, when he was exiled to the countryside for hard labor, beatings were routine.

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His body was frequently covered in red and green bruises. Once he was hit so hard with a spade that the handle broke. A Red Guard once even ordered the prisoners to beat each other up. Hard labor was not just physically trying but outright dangerous. Grandpa Yao worked on roofs without any protection, barely escaped a tractor accident, and toiled in a petroleum factory in the dead of winter during the Chinese New Year holiday, a time for celebration and family reunion.

What I learned was that the Cultural Revolution was only one in a long series of national tragedies that Grandpa Yao personally experienced. He was born in The next year, Manchuria fell to the Japanese. As Japanese forces swept into southern China Grandpa Yao was forced to flee his hometown of Hangzhou with his family, becoming war refugees. They faced hazards almost unheard of in China today.

A Brief History of China

He lost his mother to typhus and younger sister to fatigue, and buried them in unmarked graves. Even my grandfather almost succumbed to exhaustion on multiple occasions. By the time fighting ended in , 15 to 20 million of his countrymen had perished. The alliance between Chinese Communists and Nationalists soon fell apart, plunging the country once again into civil war, and Grandpa Yao took sides.

In July , at the height of the conflict, my grandfather went up north to Nationalist-controlled Beijing, where he enrolled in college but was soon expelled for repeatedly publishing anti-Nationalist propaganda and starting his own library with collections of Communist pamphlets.

It would have been impossible to imagine then that, less than 20 years later, my grandfather would be again made to suffer. Many in my generation receive such good education in China that we are able to study in world-class universities abroad. We lead lives my grandparents could scarcely have imagined. They feel not just fortunate to have survived; they are grateful for what China has become for their children and grandchildren. Those ideals inspired millions of Chinese like my grandparents to devote themselves to building a brighter future.

China’s technology revolution

But Grandpa Yao, just like many other loyal party members who suffered under Mao, simply refuses to believe that the cause to which he committed so much turned out to be an illusion. He believes, instead, that individuals — but not Mao — subverted communist ideals for personal power and gain.

We can no longer understand exactly why those ideals matter or how they are relevant to the materialistic society that China has become. Sometimes, though, despite the distance in age and experience that separates us, I see in my grandfather echoes of the same questions about our shared history that trouble me. Trending Now Sponsored Links by Taboola. Sign up for free access to 1 article per month and weekly email updates from expert policy analysts. Create a Foreign Policy account to access 1 article per month and free newsletters developed by policy experts.

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To get access to this special FP Premium benefit, subscribe by clicking the button below. As China's future leaders, we must understand the hope — and the danger — that idealism brought to China's founding generation. According to state media China is moving towards an ageing society.

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Red Wired: Chinas Internet Revolution Red Wired: Chinas Internet Revolution
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