Prostitution is illegal in Communist China. But just how rampant the practice is across the country was revealed over the weekend in a rare state media sting investigation carried out in the entertainment hub of Dongguan located in the heavily industrialised Guangdong province in southern China.
The report, aired by national broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) on Sunday, revealed that sex rackets were being recklessly carried, offering illicit services in massage parlours, sauna centres, karaoke bars and five star hotels; some venues were located close to police stations.
Dongguan is known for its lavish casino resorts, bath centers, massage parlours as well as its backstreet brothels.
Stung by the report and allegations that police in Dongguan were involved, China’s Ministry of Public Security — one of the top bodies for internal security — and provincial security department launched a crackdown within hours.
At least a dozen entertainment venues were shut down and the police, according to state media, had detained 67 persons in connection with case.
Local police stations were being investigated for dereliction of duty or failing to respond to informants’ reports of sex trade, a report in the state-run Xinhua news agency said.
The director of a local public security bureau and the director of a police station were suspended pending investigation.
Despite the general online public support for the crackdown, some said the police should take a softer approach especially while treating sex workers. In 2010, Dongguan police had controversially paraded arrested sex workers on the street to humiliate them.