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Sex trade goes underground in China’s ‘sin city’

When Han Yulai, a businessman in Dongguan, a town in southern China’s manufacturing heartland, had clients in town for a factory visit or trade fairs, he would always offer them what he calls the “Dongguan standard.”

In the evening, he’d take them to a KTV, a karaoke entertainment establishment often synonymous with sexual services.

There, a “mamasan” — a name given to a woman in charge of running businesses at brothels would line up a dozen young women, mainly Chinese but also Japanese, Korean and — the most expensive of all — Russians.

“You choose one or two, sing and drink and have a bit of fun, and then go to a room upstairs for some ‘business.’ Not love, only business,” said Han, who used a pseudonym as prostitution is illegal in China.

Today, doing that type of business is becoming increasingly difficult.

In February 2014, the government launched a crackdown on the sex trade in Dongguan, which has been dubbed China’s “Sin City.”

More than 2,000 hotels, saunas and massage parlors that catered to the city’s migrant workers and visiting buyers were shut down, according to state media.

Thousands of people were arrested, including suspected operators and organizers of prostitution, alongside high-ranking officials and corrupt police officers. The city’s vice mayor, who was also head of the city’s public security bureau, Yan Xiaokang, was removed from his posts.

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