Beijing's urban planning authority plans to include accommodations for breast-feeding mothers in 15 new subway stations that are planned for construction over the next five years, Beijing News reported on Thursday.
A draft amendment on the accessible facilities is expected to be released on Friday by the Beijing Municipal Commission of Urban Planning.
The announcement follows a social media storm in late November, in which a microbloger took a photo of a mother breast-feeding her infant on a subway car and posted it on Sina Weibo, China's twitter-like service.
Beijing Tale, a charitable organisation, reposted the blog and negative comments the photo received, triggering a lively conversation among netizens over the appropriateness of public breast-feeding. The group ended up closed its microblog and deactivating its website.
UNICEF, the UN group dedicated to the well-being of children and their mothers, is a strong supporter of breast-feeding. In 2013, UNICEF launched a "10 Square Meters of Love" campaign with the aim of creating, registering, certifying and publicizing breast-feeding rooms.
"Breast milk is nature's true superfood for babies. No artificial substitute compares," Gillian Mellsop, UNICEF's China representative, said when the campaign was launched. "Yet, it is harder than ever to find time or space to give babies all the benefits associated with exclusive breast-feeding for six months."
As part of the campaign, China established 22 breast-feeding rooms in public transportation systems, including at train stations in Fuzhou and Sanming, Fujian province; at a bus station in Tianjin; and at a subway station in Chengdu, Sichuan province. There are none in Beijing.