Photo/IllutrationEuropean-style buildings line both sides of the street in Harbin, a city known as "Little Paris of the Orient,” in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

SHENYANG, China--Horrifying unsanitary practices at a restaurant and luxury hotels in China, including customers’ cups being cleaned with a toilet brush, have sparked an outcry in the nation after video evidence went viral.

According to Chinese media, the scandal first erupted when footage taken secretly at three hotels in Harbin, in northeastern China's Heilongjiang province, was posted on the Internet and shared widely at the end of December.

Footage showed a cleaner at the Kempinski Hotel Harbin using a toilet brush to wash cups, while a cleaner at the Shangri-La Hotel Halbin wiped cups and a trash can with the same cloth, and even rinsed it in a toilet bowl.

At the third hotel, Sheraton Harbin Xiangfang Hotel, a cleaner used the same brush in a toilet bowl and a sink.

After investigating the reports, the Harbin city government announced that the unhygienic conditions and practices exposed in the videos were genuine, and reprimanded the hotels.

Meanwhile, more stomach-churning footage filmed at an outlet of an extra-spicy food national restaurant chain in Chongqing, southwestern China, was reported in the Chinese media on Jan. 10.

In the video, restaurant staff recycled customers’ left-over soup by collecting discarded servings and pouring them into a large pot in the kitchen.

“I saw a cigarette butt and a toothpick in the pot with the soup,” said a witness who captured the shocking scene at the request of an individual who had suffered an upset stomach after eating at the restaurant.

Members of the public expressed their outrage at the video content online with comments such as, “Severely punish them!”

But others seemed resigned to the prevalence of unsanitary practices, with one person posting, “Every hotel and restaurant does the same things.”