China's housing boom has created the world's most competitive market for porcelain toilet products, where fancy models can cost $6,000, company officials said.
China is the world's largest loo market, and nearly 19 million toilets are sold there every year, The Los Angeles Times reported.
"Today, Chinese people like to focus on the kitchen and the bathroom in their new apartments," said Dong Yu, who along with his wife were shopping for toilet fixtures. "It's a big difference from when I was a kid. We had to share public bathrooms, which only had squat toilets."
The toilet Dong and his wife liked costs $400 and is made by Japan's Toto Ltd. While some Western-style porcelain commodes sell for around $20, high-tech models with seat warmers and automatic bidets can cost up to $6,000, the newspaper said.
"As far as toilets go, we think this is top of the line," said Banse Katsuya, project sales manager for Toto China. He was describing a $5,900 Neorest series bowl in the company's flagship store in Beijing.
It featured buttons labeled "rear cleansing" and "front cleansing" for its bidet functions, and the Space Age device has a heated seat and a water saving -- but powerful -- hands-free sensor flush.
"China is the most competitive market in the world," said Larry Yuen, president of Kohler Asia, which has 11 factories in China. "There are brands from Japan, Europe and America all fighting for market share."