Dongguan massage parlours reopen after sex trade crackdown

Most businesses allowed to operate again after massive vice crackdown, but there are signs the illegal sex trade may soon be revived

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 4:27am
UPDATED : Thursday, 31 July, 2014, 4:27am

Thousands of hotels, saunas and massage parlours that were closed down during a crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan have been allowed to reopen.

The operators of 2,684 of the businesses have gone to the city's police department and signed a pledge promising not to get involved in gambling, drugs or vice, the Nanfang Daily reported.

That is about 80 per cent of the businesses that have been shut since the crackdown on vice was launched in February, the newspaper said.

The authorities have also released new regulations for massage parlours and other entertainment venues.

These include banning the use of enclosed VIP rooms and prohibiting massage parlours from locking doors or turning off the lights in cubicles to discourage prostitution.

Police said they had detained 2,252 people during the crackdown, including 77 accused of running a prostitution business.

Thousands of hotels, saunas and massage parlours had their licences revoked or were ordered to close until they cleaned up their operations.

The massive crackdown began after a report on state television in February accused the city authorities of allowing a huge sex industry to flourish in the struggling manufacturing hub's hotels and bathhouses.

Dozens of police officials in Dongguan, including Yan Xiaokang , the former deputy mayor and head of the city's public security bureau, have been suspended or removed from office on suspicion of protecting prostitution businesses.

Owners of several of the city's luxury hotels, including Liang Yaohui , a deputy in the National People's Congress and the chairman of the Crown Prince Hotel Dongguan, were arrested for allegedly operating the sex trade in their premises.

The campaign soon expanded from Dongguan to the entire province, and the provincial authorities said the crackdown would continue until at least the end of the year.

But Li Dehe, the director of security patrol division in the public security department, admitted there were signs of a revival in prostitution in the city as entertainment venues began to reopen.

Dozens of people from two hotels were detained earlier this month for alleged involvement in the sex trade.

Many taxi drivers and bosses of saunas and restaurant have complained that their business remained poor even though entertainment venues had resumed operations.

"Our business is desolate these nights," said the boss of a foot massage centre in Humen township in Dongguan.

Prostitution became a significant part of the economy in the city after manufacturing industries closed or shifted elsewhere when export demand slumped in 2009 following the global economic crisis.

Hundreds of hotels sprang up to serve visiting buyers and people visiting trade exhibitions, and when the economy shifted, they became a base for prostitutes and their clients.