People are taken away during a police raid at a hotel, as
part of the crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan.
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
Secretly shot footage showed scantily clad women parading on
a stage and managers of venues speaking openly about
The CCTV report was widely watched across China and sparked
extensive comment on social media.
The Ministry of Public Security had sent a team to Guangdong
to investigate the involvement of any police officials there
and crack down on those who provide a "safety umbrella"
behind which prostitution can happen, Xinhua said.
The ministry will take "decisive measures" against those who
run the sex trade, it added.
"Although no evidence has been provided, it is widely
speculated by the public that local police offer protection
for Dongguan's rampant prostitution," Xinhua said in a
While periodic sweeps against vice have been carried out,
including during sensitive periods such as the 2008 Beijing
Olympics and 2010 Asian Games in Guangzhou, the industry has
thrived. Law enforcement often appears to be lax.
The Dongguan region has long been known as a hub for the sex
Authorities there said last month the city had seen a high
incidence of HIV/AIDS amid rumours that more than 2,700 sex
workers had been infected, according to the Global Times, a
Chinese tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party
mouthpiece, the People's Daily.