A sex theme park that featured explicit exhibits of genitalia and sexual culture is being demolished before it even opened, a Chinese government spokesman said yesterday.
The park, named Love Land by its owners, went under the wrecking ball over the weekend in the city of Chongqing, in south-western China.
The spokesman refused to give the reason for the demolition, but photographs of the adult-only park had circulated widely on the internet over the weekend, prompting widespread mockery and condemnation.
Exhibits included giant-sized reproductions of male and female anatomy, dissertations on how the topic of sex is treated in various cultures and, perhaps most controversially, what the official China Daily newspaper referred to as "sex technique workshops".
The park's main investor, Lu Xiaoqing, claimed that the attractions sought only to boost sexual awareness and improve people's sex lives.
But the demolition highlights conflicting views on sex in modern China, where a prudish attitude toward discussion of sexuality sits uneasily alongside an almost clinical approach to its physical aspects.
While pornography is banned and the idea of sex education largely unheard of, shops selling sex toys and related items stand out prominently in many neighbourhoods and sex outside marriage is widely tolerated.
Meanwhile, prostitution, although technically illegal, is widespread and the keeping of illicit mistresses among prominent businessmen and Communist Party officials is considered commonplace.
Such attitudes are blamed in part for risky sex and ignorance about birth control among minors.
With public discussion of sex so limited, there is relatively little awareness of sexual harassment and abuse, and laws and regulations covering such matters are weaker in China than in many countries.
Newspapers carried prominent reports last week on a government official who was let off with a fine simply because he claimed he had not known that the 13-year-old girl he paid to have sex with was underage.
The man, named as Lu Yumin, was a local tax bureau official in Sichuan province's Yibin county. He was arrested on charges of child rape, but was convicted only of visiting a prostitute and fined 5,000 yuan (£480).Reuse content