Chinese prostitutes face moral crusade

PEKING (Reuter) - Police in Guangdong province have arrested more than 7,000 prostitutes and their customers and uncovered thousands of hotels, beauty parlours and dance clubs involved in the sex trade, the People's Daily reported yesterday.

Police have broken up more than 300 prostitution rings and closed hundreds of brothels, the newspaper said.

In an editorial the Communist Party newspaper said: 'The existence of the evil phenomenon of prostitution is completely incompatible with socialism. It conflicts with the traditional moral principles of the Chinese people.'

The southern province of Guangdong, focus of China's initial efforts at economic reform, has seen its economy boom as pro- capitalist changes take root. Now boasting the highest living standard in China, it has experienced increasing levels of crime, drugs and prostitution. About 65 million people live in Guangdong province.

The People's Daily said prostitutes captured during the sweep would face sentences of 'educational reform' - a combination of prison camp and moral lecture hall - lasting from six months to two years.

The paper said: 'Across the province at least 18 cities are expanding or constructing educational facilities. Since April about 4,000 people involved in prostitution have been taken in.'

Communist Party and government leaders who visit prostitutes should expect a tougher time, it said. 'Party cadres and national cadres who engage in prostitution must be subject to both party and national discipline and, in serious cases, should be dealt with by the law,' the newspaper said.