A rethink on those controversial parades of prostitutes

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 24 March, 2007, 12:00am

Hong Kong sex tourists can breathe a sigh of relief. Xu Desen , party secretary of Shenzhen's Futian district, notorious for its sex villages, has promised not to parade sex workers and their clients through the streets anymore.

The man who sanctioned last November's controversial parading of more than 100 prostitutes and their customers, 10 of whom were from Hong Kong, described the practice as 'public administration', not a parade, after attending an official meeting this week.

Still, he reassured his Hong Kong compatriots with a promise. 'Hong Kong and Shenzhen do things differently,' he said when cornered by reporters. 'But [the parading] won't happen again.'

The incident saw public security officers dressing those arrested in bright yellow T-shirts and parading them through the streets wearing masks. Their names, ages and places of origin were read out in public.

The spectacle sparked a public outcry and extensive media coverage, including reports by the BBC and The Washington Post. It also sparked an internal government investigation.

Mr Xu talked tough at the time, saying the government was planning to spend 500 million yuan over two years to turn vice areas into hi-tech and cultural centres such as well-lit parks and mobile phone-making facilities.

Talk about wishful thinking! The district party secretary now admits the number of visitors from Hong Kong has dropped significantly, as has revenue from 'entertainment' businesses, but insists this is only transitional.

Well, perhaps men from Hong Kong will start visiting Futian again after Mr Xu's de facto mea culpa.