Watch: The CCTV report that began the Dongguan prostitution scandal
The crackdown on the sex trade in Dongguan has widened to a national campaign, with the Ministry of Public Security vowing severe punishment for offenders across the country.
The ministry called on police at every level to act firmly against the "three vices" of prostitution, gambling and drug trafficking.
"Be resolute with the crackdown no matter who is involved, and regardless of what official ranks they are at, with no leniency or soft-heartedness," said a notice posted on the ministry's official website yesterday.
Police officers who shirked their duty would be held accountable, and any officer caught protecting offenders would be punished harshly.
Dongguan deputy mayor and police chief Yan Xiaokang was sacked on Friday for failing to curb rampant prostitution in the Guangdong industrial hub. Ten more senior police officers have been subject to punishment ranging from demerits to being fired after police raided nearly 2,000 entertainment venues last week following a TV exposé.
Eight other provinces including Zhejiang, Gansu, Shandong, Guangxi and Heilongjiang have made similar raids, indicating that the campaign was orchestrated at the top level of the central government.
Four top township officials in Dongguan made a public apology over the weekend for the "bad image" caused by the scandal to the city.
Professor Chen Zhonglin, dean of the law faculty of Chongqing University, said the vice crackdown would become a second major campaign launched by the central government, following the continuing drive to stamp out corruption.
"By combating the sex trade, gambling and drug trafficking, the government aims to tackle some deep-rooted problems," he said. "One of them is that economic development in many cities is built on unlawful activities."
Among other crackdowns last week, the public security bureau in Rugao city, Jiangsu province, deployed 200 police officers to inspect karaoke lounges. In Leiyang city, Hunan province, officers detained 79 suspects and shut down 22 brothels and casinos.
Professor Peng Peng , of Guangzhou Academy of Social Sciences, said it was necessary to expand the scope of the crackdown, otherwise those involved in Dongguan's illicit trade might just move elsewhere.
On Saturday Hong Kong's police commissioner, Andy Tsang Wai-hung, said police in the city would increase operations against vice establishments.