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From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Fri Nov 17 2000 - 07:08:29 EST

China criminal rings have turned away from prostitution fronts to more
covert operations because of anti-vice crackdowns by police

BEIJING - The flesh trade in China has become increasingly creative in the
manner in which sexual services are marketed, with operators using covers
like housekeeping help and "dial-a-friend" telephone chat sessions.
In recent months, Chinese criminal rings have turned away from long-used
prostitution fronts like massage parlours, bath-houses, karaoke lounges and
hairdressing salons, to more covert operations because of periodic
anti-vice crackdowns by the police.
Such new covers make it more difficult for the authorities to detect vice
activities since the actual prostitution services do not take place on site
but at other locations.
It is understood that the latest summer anti-vice campaign was particularly
effective in closing down traditional vice dens. This was because the
crackdown was also part of the central government's anti-corruption drive
since it had become prevalent for cadres to accept bribes not only in the
form of money but also carnal services.
Beijing newspapers have been carrying advertisements by agencies offering
"leisure services to successful men and women". The agencies provide male
and female escorts who will chat, dance or sing with clients and even read
or swim with them.
Each escort pays a fee of 50-100 yuan (S$11 to S$22) for an agency to
introduce him or her to 10 to 20 clients.
"What happens after the escort meets the client is none of our business.
How much an escort earns from a client is up to him or her," one agency
told an undercover Beijing Evening News reporter.
Another new prostitution front is the maid agency which despatches domestic
help who not only cook and wash but also double up as lovers.
According to an article in a Fujian newspaper, in Lianjiang county near
Fuzhou a 26-year-old woman agreed to take the job for 2,000 yuan a month,
which is no mean sum in that part of China. Her maid agency received 360
yuan in commission.
Prostitution is really big business in China as is evidenced by the case in
the north-eastern city of Shenyang which became the first city in China to
tax prostitutes when it imposed fees on them three years ago.
Last summer, thousands of prostitutes, many of whom are non-Shenyang
natives, were said to have withdrawn millions of yuan from their bank
accounts in the city when they fled it to avoid the anti-vice crackdown.
Local residents say that Shenyang lost its economic buzz with the women's
The good times are back again now that the authorities quietly allow the
women to return to the city.
Although prostitution is rife nationwide, there is little variation in the
mode or venue of operations of the women of the streets. Apart from hotels,
cinemas and public parks are also well-known vice locations.
A Shenyang resident said: "If the women are in their 20's, they operate in
hotels. The thirty-somethings work in cinemas. A woman would buy two
theatre tickets and approach any man who is willing to join her in the
cinema which usually has lovers' seats or seats meant for two. For 50 yuan,
she allows him to fondle any part of her body. For 100 yuan, she would sit
on his lap.
"For more money, they could retreat to a cubicle in the cinema hall."
"The over-30's work in public parks. Some start at dawn to pick up elderly
men who are out there for their morning exercise.
"Others would entertain a group of 20 or more men with dirty stories or
engage in conversation spiced with foul language with them. The men pay 50
cents or one yuan each to listen to her."
(c) 2000 Singapore Press Holdings Limited.
STRAITS TIMES 08/11/2000
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