BEIJING, Oct. 16 (Xinhua) -- A sign at a KFC restaurant lavatory in east China's Zhejiang Province has been put up telling female customers not to use the male restroom.
Located in a shopping mall in the downtown Beilun District in Ningbo City, the KFC restaurant put up a placard reading "For the comfort of the male consumers, girls please don't use the male toilet."
Staff of the fast food restaurant explained that female consumers were using the male restroom because they could not find enough toilets elsewhere. This prompted complaints from men who felt embarrassed seeing women in their restroom.
However, some netizens have vented their frustration, arguing that women have no choice but to use male restrooms.
"Has the restaurant ever thought about the female consumer? They'll only do this if it's an emergency," a posting on the Internet said.
"But it's normal. I often think about using the male's restroom when I have been standing in a long queue for the female's lavatory, while the men's is empty," a Weibo user with the screen name "Miss Toothpaste" said on Sina Weibo, a twitter-like microblog service.
Similar predicaments appear in cities across China.
In Beijing, female citizens and tourists complain about waiting in queues outside public toilets.
"I'd like to let my wife use the male's toilet rather than waiting outside the female's toilet for almost half an hour in the park during a weekend," said a Beijing native surnamed Wang.
In the latest effort to solve the toilet woes, the Beijing Municipal Commission of City Administration and Environment is considering increasing the number of public toilets for women.
The new standard will make the ratio of female to male public toilets 1.5 or two to one.
Statistics show that Beijing has more than 12,000 public latrines. Most of them are located along main roads, squares, residential communities, parks, tourist attractions and markets in the urban areas.
But the number is obviously not enough for women, as long queues are often seen outside the public latrines.
The scarcity of public toilets has prompted many to use washrooms at KFC and McDonald's, as they have branches throughout cities and are regularly serviced and cleaned.
Beijing will build more than 2,000 public lavatories by 2015, and some old lavatories will be renovated, said Cui Xuan, deputy director of the sanitation bureau of the commission.
Cui said, each of the newly-built toilets will be around 300,000 yuan (47,870 U.S. dollars), and 100,000 yuan for a renovated one. He added that people wil be able to find a public toilet within an eight-minute walk.
In addition, visitors will be able to use a text messaging service to find public toilets around Beijing's tourist attractions, Cui said.
Guangzhou, the largest city in southern China, has a population of 12 million people, but only 907 public toilets in its downtown area, 2011official statistics showed.
To address this imbalance, more than 5,000 toilets throughout 195 communities will be constructed or renovated to meet the needs of 450,000 citizens.
Earlier in February, several female undergraduates from universities of Guangzhou City launched a movement of "occupy men's toilets". In August, college student Huang Huanting and 14 friends staged a performance in the front of the gate of the city's administration committee with her self-made toilet. She appealed for fair use of public latrines and more toilets for women.
Latrines are also being constructed in the cities of Shenyang, Zhuhai, Shanghai and Hong Kong.
There should be unisex toilets in places where there are large numbers of people, such as shopping malls, scenic spots and cinemas. Unisex toilets could ease the long queues and increase the usage rate, said a Weibo user named "Stanley Xiao".
"It's more humane to build more toilets, especially for females. For Beijing to become a global city, such fundamental facilities should be constructed first," said Wang Yukai, a professor of China National School of Administration.