Beijing's restrooms are "notorious" for being unclean, and in many neighborhoods, public toilets are the only options of the residents. The laws, though, are aimed at high-traffic and tourist locations such as railway stations, parks, hospitals, and malls. They endeavor to "standardize" the cleanliness of restrooms.
Apparently, this isn't Beijing's first attempt at cleaning up the public restrooms: a 2008 ordinance for the Olympics did not successfully result in a significant change across the board.
China Daily reports that the rules are not meant to be compulsory. The rules also request that restrooms be well-equipped to accommodate the elderly and the disabled.
Public restrooms are not recognized by the UN's Millennium Development Goals as being
"improved" sanitation--thus, public restrooms often don't "count" when it comes to assessing a country's progress towards improving the quality of life of its residents. This is more important, granted, for more "developing" countries in the world who are seeking out international aid and loans, but, internationally, there is very little discussion about public restrooms overall.
Beijing's ordinances are unique in that they address the human experiential aspect of sanitation as opposed to solely focusing on the excreta disposal. The latter is more traditionally and widely accepted as being the purview of the government, whereas the former is often thought of as merely a "nicety." Poor public restroom quality differentially affects women and the elderly, marginalizing already marginalized populations.
This story, I would like to note, is again from an Asian country. Some Asian countries seem, overall, more comfortable talking about toilets and restrooms. Anyone more familiar with Japan or China who can throw in why they seem far more comfortable talking about sanitation than Europe or the US?