Postcard from... Beijing


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The Independent Online

A state TV exposé on prostitution in China’s “sex capital” and an ensuing police crackdown have drawn criticism from the public, who expressed sympathy for the sex workers.

Coverage of the weekend raid by 6,500 officers in the southern city of Dongguan – filled with images of handcuffed women, their heads bowed – spurred many to post comments online that were more critical of China Central Television’s reporting and the crackdown than the prostitution.

Some voices called for China’s sex trade to be made legal and to end discrimination against sex workers. “There’s no way to eradicate it. Legalisation must take place under some narrowly-defined circumstances,” such as special zones that are regulated,  said Wang Yongzhi, 37, a Beijing IT worker, yesterday.

In CCTV’s Sunday broadcast, undercover reporters filmed sex services being offered for sale in Dongguan. A reporter told police that prostitution was happening, but they were said to have not shown up.

Hours later Dongguan police launched the crackdown, later widened to a three-month effort across Guangdong province. The government officially views prostitution as an “ugly social phenomenon” and the solicitation, sale and purchase of sex in China are illegal. AP