BEIJING — It’s probably not the first time that Congress has been compared to a repository for human waste. But enterprising designers in the Chinese city of Fuyang have now built an actual restroom in a shape of the U.S. Capitol.
Pictures of the facilities, built on the grounds of a Chinese winery in Anhui province, quickly went viral Thursday. The toilet has all the familiar elements of the Capitol — huge pillars, a balcony and a Roman-style dome.
The bathroom, occupying more than 4,000 square feet, isn’t open to the public and is intended for the winery's staff and visitors, according to Wu Ketao, a farmer who took the pictures while visiting the winery, Golden Seed, with a friend.
“I took the pictures because the toilet looked very luxury and reminded me of Capitol Hill,” Wu said. “I did not expect it to become a headline.”
The congressional toilet, however, is just the latest in a long line of Washington knockoffs in China. Replicas of D.C. buildings were once a national fad here in China. State media have chronicled nearly 10 government buildings mirroring the White House in Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Hunan and Jiangxi provinces. In Wuxi, Jiangsu province, local government built four White House-style courts.
In fact, Fuyang, where the Capitol Hill toilet is located, made headlines in 2007 when a White House knockoff became a symbol of corruption and lavish spending and brought down a spate of officials, including the party chief of the city’s Yingquan district.
According to state media back then, construction of the White House-style building cost at least $4.3 million, nearly one-third of the district’s total revenue. By comparison, the per capita annual income of the district’s farmers was a little more than $285.
Last year, amid an anti-corruption campaign to rein in such widely ridiculed and lavish behavior, China’s top leaders issued a directive banning the construction, expansion or even restoration of government buildings for five years.
Although it is not a government department, Golden Seed is a state-owned enterprise. The winery declined to reveal the building’s cost or its designer.
But staff members insisted that simply copying Washington was not the intention.
“We were just trying to build something novel,” an employee said over the phone. “You know, to be different from others.”