Party chief vows to crack down but excessive measures will be avoided

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 26 November, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Thursday, 26 November, 2009, 12:00am

Dongguan authorities have vowed to clamp down on prostitution, but said excessive measures and blanket closures would be avoided.

Party chief Liu Zhigeng, who is under huge pressure after Beijing voiced concerns, promised a high-profile crackdown after central government inspectors threatened to give the city the worst possible crime rating.

While reiterating that Dongguan had to rid itself of its reputation as the sex capital of China, Liu said police and officials should not simply wipe out all entertainment venues.

'Township governments should be aware of the limits of the crackdown. They should not overdo things and seize every venue and club,' he was quoted as saying by the Southern Metropolis News yesterday.

Meanwhile, mayor Li Yuquan said Dongguan's reputation as a centre for vice and drugs was a public illusion. 'Many people believe Dongguan has a huge number of prostitutes and drug traffickers. That's a misconception,' Li said.

'People see so many luxury hotels in Dongguan and think most provide sexual services. That is incorrect. Also, Dongguan has a large floating population, and information is exchanged at a faster rate than in other places. Many criminal cases have been exaggerated by the public.'

It was not the first time the mayor had attempted to defend his city's reputation. In July, Li told Hong Kong media that the sex industry operated according to market demands.

'I don't think Dongguan has a large number of karaoke bars and nightclubs - they're all built to meet market demand,' he said at the time. 'Actually, official numbers show the city has only 195.'

The mayor denied a clampdown on 'special services' would harm the city's economy. 'Any campaign to crack down on prostitution, drug abuse and crime won't affect our economic growth,' he told Hong Kong media. 'We have strict regulations to manage entertainment venues, and will fight crime as usual.'

It is widely acknowledged that most karaoke bars, massage parlours, nightclubs, hotels and saunas provide sexual services when requested. Analysts believe Dongguan will struggle to eradicate prostitution because it has become a key industry.