China in rare crackdown on sex industry in southern vice hub

Mon Feb 10, 2014 6:38am EST
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By James Pomfret

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Chinese authorities have carried out a rare crackdown on the sex trade in the "sin city" of Dongguan following a candid report by the state broadcaster on the underground industry.

China outlawed prostitution after the Communist revolution in 1949, but it returned with a vengeance following landmark economic reforms three decades ago, and has helped fuel a rise in HIV/AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases.

While the government carries out periodic crackdowns, it is unusual for state media to cover them in such a high-profile way or for top officials to comment on the problem, underscoring worry about the explosion of the sex trade.

Media said 67 people were arrested and 12 venues were shut down in a sting operation involving thousands of police in the Dongguan region at the heart of China's Pearl River Delta industrial hub in the southern province of Guangdong.

Provincial Communist party boss Hu Chunhua, a rising star who has been tipped for future national leadership, stressed the need "to conduct an extensive trawling-style crackdown on the entire city", according to a report in the Nanfang Daily.

Two city police chiefs had been suspended, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reported. The official Xinhua news agency said a total of eight police officers had been suspended for failing to respond to public complaints about prostitution.

China's main state broadcaster, China Central Television (CCTV), aired a half-hour report on Sunday chronicling what appeared to be extensive and open prostitution in five towns across Dongguan.

Secretly shot footage showed scantily clad women parading on a stage and managers of venues speaking openly about prostitution services.   Continued...

People are taken away during a police raid, as part of plans to crackdown on prostitution, from a hotel in Dongguan, Guangdong province, February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Stringer