Officials at a county government in China reportedly plan to impose fines on people who don’t make their beds or wash the dishes.
Under draconian new policies, police will be sent to impose penalties if citizens fail to meet cleanliness standards, the South China Morning Post reports.
Puge county, in Sichuan province, announced it would impose a 10 yuan (£1.12) fine on people who leave dishes unwashed or do not make their beds.
Officials said the new policies were aimed at improving living conditions in the region.
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The new policy, titled “Fining Standards for New Human Settlements Environment Campaigns,” currently identifies 14 categories of behavior punishable by fines.
But the move has sparked fierce debate across China, as citizens begin to question whether the government should be allowed to interfere so much in their family lives.
There is also a fine of five yuan (56p) for having intact cobwebs anywhere on their property.
Financial penalties also vary from around three to ten yuan (34p – £1.12) depending on the severity of the clutter or droppings people have in their garden.
The authorities have stressed that repeat offenders will see their fines double.
The deputy county executive said the goal of the policy is to address the pervasive problem of “dirty, untidy and disorderly living conditions.”
He said the fines were still in the drafting stage, but he intended to use them as a deterrent to address the current problems facing rural households.
“When you visit a farmer’s home, the conditions are often far from presentable,” he said.
“The environment is dirty and messy, with cobwebs, people eating on the floor, with many mosquitoes and dogs nearby.
“To be honest, fines cannot effectively solve these problems. We use fines as a deterrent. »
He added that the government intended to reinvest the money collected from fines back into the community.
“For example, if a household is penalized three yuan, we will use that amount to buy them a broom,” he said.
“If the fine is 10 yuan, we will buy them a basin. Our goal is to transform these harmful habits, which is an extremely difficult task.”
Another member of Puge County government told Dahe Daily that the county is not the first to impose fines of this type and that poor living conditions contribute to the spread of diseases.
Puge County is under the administration of Liangshan Yi Autonomous Province, one of the poorest regions in the country.
Efforts to boost the region’s economic development are a recurring topic in Chinese state media.
It is often cited as a success story of China’s poverty reduction programs and the way authorities have revitalized rural areas.
But public opinion on the issue of fining citizens is divided, with some viewing close monitoring of citizens’ cleanliness as government overreach.
One netizen said: “The local government seems to interfere in every aspect of people’s lives, even checking to see if they have made their bed.”
Another question is what the intention is behind sarcastically remarking that the city “makes money the right way and fines are king.”
But others argue that financial sanctions are justified in the context of reducing poverty and improving rural areas.
“Scandalous situations always favor scandalous policies,” one person said.
“Anyone who has visited Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture would likely find these requirements entirely reasonable.
“Working at the local level is much more difficult than most people imagine. »
Another added: “In some poor places, changing customs and habits requires external forces. Apart from fines, there may be no better solution.”