BEIJING A Chinese city suburb has set a bounty on dead flies in a bid to promote public hygiene, Xinhua news agency said Tuesday.
Xigong, a district of Luoyang in the central province of Henan, paid out more than 1,000 yuan ($125) for about 2,000 dead flies on July 1, the day it launched the scheme with the aim of encouraging cleanliness in residential areas.
"I and colleagues believe it is the best way to push residents to do more for their living environment," Hu Guisheng, the office chief, was quoted as saying.
The payment scheme is the first of its kind in Luoyang, a city of 1.55 million people which is striving to earn the title of "state-level hygienic city."
But critics have questioned the benefits of paying 0.5 yuan (seven U.S. cents) per insect turned in, a scheme which has sparked an online debate.
An Internet user said that although the office had good intentions, the action itself had made the district a laughing stock.
"The key point is the government should encourage residents to clean up the environment so that no flies can live there, instead of spending money on dead flies," the Internet user wrote.
China has a history of using unorthodox means to eradicate pests. When Mao Zedong launched the "Four Pests" campaign during the Great Leap Forward in the 1950s, citizens were ordered to kill flies, mosquitoes, rats and sparrows.
Pest control efforts included banging pots and pans to scare sparrows into flight and have them eventually drop to earth dead from exhaustion.