Chinese spend $23,000 on toilet for Mrs. Clinton

June 27, 1998|By CHICAGO TRIBUNE

BEIJING -- With an important visitor such as President Clinton, authorities are doing everything in their power to make sure nothing goes wrong.

One thing that could go horribly wrong would be for first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton to need to use a restroom during her visit to the Great Wall today while her husband is meeting with Chinese leaders.

Although China has made huge strides toward modernization since Richard Nixon's 1992 visit, it still trails the rest of the world in the standards of its toilets, and the Chinese did not want Mrs. Clinton to be shocked by those provided to regular tourists, said Zhao Chen, vice bureau chief of the Badaling Great Wall Cleaning Supervision Department.

So local authorities have built Mrs. Clinton her own Western-style toilet, with a seat and air-conditioning, which means it will rank among the most regal restrooms in China.

It will also rank Mrs. Clinton alongside Nixon as one of only two Americans in history to be so honored in China.

The toilet's $23,000 cost -- about 30 times the average Beijinger's annual income -- was worth it, Zhao said.

Pub Date: 6/27/98

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