• A public toilet sign in Beijing. China's public toilets are notorious for being unsanitary.

A public toilet sign in Beijing. China's public toilets are notorious for being unsanitary. (Photo : Guardian)

The plan to make Beijing's 14,000 public toilets multi-functional aroused controversy for being luxurious and possibly superfluous.

The toilets will be equipped with additional recharge payments, ATMs, free Wi-Fi, self-service for train and flight tickets, charging outlets for electric vehicles, microwaves and water dispensers for cleaners.

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Users can also avail of even advertising bulletin boards, exercise equipment and libraries.

However, Peking University sociology professor Tong Xin noted that it is enough that public toilets provide a clean environment for users and that the extra services should be installed in other places.

Tong added that the other services won't function well in this plan because of people's stereotypes toward toilets.

In addition, the free Wi-Fi may cause congestion in the toilets since people will tend to gather outside to get Internet access, said Yang Yang, an IT engineer in Chaoyang District.

According to the Beijing Environment Sanitation Engineering Group, the upgrade of some public toilets with these services will be completed in the Fangshan District in suburban Beijing by the end of November.

The renovations will also vary from urban to rural areas since these will address different needs. Rural areas will have exercise equipment and libraries to entertain farmers.

The innovations are being made to improve the image of China's public toilets, which are notorious nationwide for being unsanitary. If successful, the changes may be promoted nationwide.

Yang said that public toilets have not left a good impression and that the renovations are necessary. He added that every time he went to a public toilet, he would encounter the unpleasant smell, prompting him to go to toilets of hotels and supermarkets instead.​