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China Reinvents the Toilet

China has invented many objects, but Chinese culture is not known for its creativity and out-of-the-box thinking. No more respected China hand than Peter Hessler argued once that Chinese athletes excel particularly in competitions that involve repetition (e.g., synchronized diving) and struggle in competitions that involve quick off-the-cuff responses to changing situations (e.g., soccer).

Yet a Chinese friend has recently unveiled his alternative theory for the use of toilets. This friend shall remain nameless, although I will add that his reinvention was discovered by another PiA fellow (whose story I am appropriating with permission).

While traveling with this free-thinker, our PiA fellow noticed on multiple occasions that he would often leave the bathroom with urine left on the toilet seat. At first, our fellow assumed the runaway urine to be merely an accident. Yet the runaway urine’s regular appearance on the seat caused him to realize that the maverick urine was actually finding its way onto the toilet seat because the owner had an alternative theory of how toilets are operated.

The alternative theory also explained why the friend often complained that Western toilets have two flaws:

  1. The seat is dirty.

  2. The seat is uncomfortable.

It turns out, these complaints are caused by this alternative toilet theory. As a Western representative, I can say with confidence that the traditional Western theory of toilets is:


The new theory reassigns the various parts of the toilet:


And, in a way, it makes sense. The seat becomes a pee protector, protecting what is now the seat from any rogue urine.

It is perhaps a male-centric theory, but this alternative theory is fascinating for the fact that its internal logic actually quite nearly makes more sense than the way Western toilets are used around the world. Who says China’s not a creative place?

Comments (3)

Maybe it's just your friend's habit, :)


I am strong against what the soooo Peter said.First ,repetion is another word for practice and practice makes perfect,(you have no idea how popular this english saying is),so excellence in anything stems from practice,or repetion ,negatively speaking.and the soccer boasted of off-the-cut response is no exception.
Second,Chinese athletes are also good at such competion,like PingPong.Who have the nerve to deny the flexibility and quick-response of PingPong,Badmiton?


Ping pong and badminton are not team sports. Just hitting the ball back and forth can´t be compared with football were you have soo many variable situations.

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