Guangdong authorities have proposed to outlaw saunas and massage parlours locking private rooms and turning off the lights in the latest move to crack down on the once-rampant sex industry.
A draft of new rules to tighten control on saunas and massage parlours was issued by the provincial Legislative Affairs Office on Monday. The office is seeking public feedback until August 6.
The proposed rules would prohibit any private rooms in the saunas and massage parlours from having locked doors or lights turned off while services are in progress. Also, any partition in the room would be banned including doors to connecting bathrooms.
The new rules would also require that the parlours install a pane of glass no smaller than 0.25 square metres into the door of each private room to allow for monitoring by the inspectors.
Another provision would require any customer visiting after 2am to register with identification documents.
Business owners who fail to meet the new regulations would face a fine up to 30,000 yuan (HK$37,600), and any employee violating the code would be fined 500 yuan.
The proposals follow Guangdong police’s crackdown on prostitution launched in early February after a programme on state television exposed the flourishing sex industry in Dongguan, once a booming manufacturing hub.
Behind the neon lights and billboards that said “sauna” and “massage”, prostitution became rampant in the region after demand for Chinese exports slumped during the global economic crisis and factories relocated to other parts of the country where labour and resources were cheaper.
Dongguan alone had more than 250,000 prostitutes, according to local estimates, and the business generated about 50 billion yuan a year.
Within four months, the crackdown saw 3,033 people arrested, 3,533 hotels, saunas and massage parlours shut down, and 1,200 websites together with 1 million instant-messaging accounts closed for allegedly advertising prostitution and escort services, Legal Daily reported last month.
Dozens of senior local police officials in Dongguan were also suspended on suspicion of protecting the industry.