Sex photos sell like hot cakes in Shenzhen

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 21 February, 2008, 12:00am

Dozens of hawkers were doing a roaring trade in Shenzhen's busiest areas yesterday selling copies of sex photos purportedly of Hong Kong celebrities, despite warnings from mainland police of crackdowns on the sale of indecent material.

Anybody distributing more than 200 such photos would face criminal prosecution and those circulating a 'small amount of' the sex photos would be detained for up to 15 days, the Beijing public security bureau's legal affairs department said.

The Legal Daily cited an unnamed department officer as saying that anyone circulating the photos among friends face prosecution for distributing obscene products.

The warnings came after most of the photos were removed from mainland websites in a police cleanup, prompting people on the mainland, like their Hong Kong counterparts, to share the photos on the internet under the pretext of 'friends' to avoid prosecution.

By Tuesday, Shenzhen police had arrested 10 people for allegedly producing, selling and buying digital discs of the sex photos. Three detainees were sentenced to five days' administrative detention and two others were being questioned by police. An unknown number were on bail.

Meanwhile, Taiwanese police arrested a 24-year-old man who had allegedly published the nude photos in the island's first arrest since the saga began. Computer equipment and photos were seized from his Shulin home in Taipei county. On February 10, police found he had been offering free downloads, the island's Central News Agency reported.

Mainland police confiscated about 250 discs, apparently of singer-actor Edison Chen Koon-hei and several female celebrities, as well as six computers used to produce the discs, the Southern Metropolis News reported yesterday.

But that has not deterred trade. Chen Guanxi - Putonghua for Chen - has become the call sign for underground sales in Shenzhen.

Dozens of hawkers selling pirated films around Saige Mansion in the city's commercial heart approached men walking alone. 'If they're not interested, I whisper 'Chen Guanxi' to them. Unsurprisingly, most of them will turn around and talk to me,' one hawker said. 'I promise it's 100 per cent watchable. There are more than 400 photos per disc.'

In Dongmen, another busy commercial district, more than 10 hawkers touted to passers-by: 'Fifty yuan for a disc containing hundreds of photos of Chen Guanxi.'

Interested buyers were taken to a backstreet and shown the photos on a portable DVD player before finishing the transaction. 'Every day we sell more than 100 copies of the photos,' one of the touts said. 'Most of our buyers come from Hong Kong.'