My trip to China was in May 2009. My sister and her boyfriend lived over there for a year and I took the opportunity to visit her and a totally different country. When sister met me the first thing she did is hand me some tissues and hand sanitizer in case I ever needed to use a public toilet.
Chinese public toilets are plentiful (unlike the UK) largely, I assume, because a lot of restaurants and cafes don’t have their own toilets. The first Chinese style toilet I used was in a large fancy building, I don’t know what the building was but you could book tours to look around, as a result the toilets were immaculate and the cubicles very spacious. But that doesn’t change the fact that Chinese ‘toilets’ aren’t actually toilets, they are holes in the ground over which you squat.
The actually squatting was not, for me, a problem. How elderly or disabled people successfully people used them was lost on me but, given the large amount of urine all over the floor of all the subsequent ones I used it seems like a lot of people do have trouble using them.
The dirtiness was the problem, how do you pull down your trousers or skirt and hold you bag and squat without getting your stuff covered in the urine and dirt on the floor? Also there was no toilet paper (the pipes are too narrow in China for tissue to be flushed down them) but the tissues people had used were placed into overflowing bins in the corner of the cubicle. These were not the efficient sanitary bins provided over here but rather waste paper baskets. And after you leave there is often no soap and occasionally no running water. My sister said I was lucky the cubicles had doors.
In one public toilet I used I was charged 0.5Yuan to use the facilities (5p) and was given a square of newsprint to use as toilet paper. For men the price was 0.1Yuan because they do not require toilet paper. Nor do they have to disrobe and squat so I was being charged 5 times as much for a much less pleasant experience.
There are some Western style toilets, like the ones at my accommodation in China, and I think the Beijing Olympics had a strange effect on the country as the government tried to prepare the country for Western visitors despite the fact that they didn’t seem to actually sell any tickets to any…
Anyway, this is all I have on Chinese toilets but travelers to the country are advised to take tissues and hand sanitiser!