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Baidu heat map shows thousands fleeing Dongguan after crackdown

Posted: 02/12/2014 6:08 pm

Just prior to the Chinese New Year holiday, Baidu published a heat map that showed the most popular travel routes within China. It got some attention for showing which parts of the country were most impacted by the insane chunyun travel rush.

Now it’s being put to use for another purpose: showing what’s happened in Dongguan following the crackdown on prostitution in the city. As you can see below, the rush is on, and it’s in one direction: away from Dongguan.

Asia Sentinel reports a full 10% of the city’s population is involved in the sex trade, or some 800,000 people. And once police began busting brothels, it was time to get the hell outta Dodge:

That prompted an exodus from the city in all directions – although, according to Baidu’s heat map, a full quarter of the departures headed for Hong Kong in a hurry. According to the Tech in Asia website, Baidu gathers data from smartphones with Baidu Maps and other apps using its location-based platform to create the heat map. Baidu Maps alone has more than 200 million registered users and receives 3.5 million position requests every day, according to Tech in Asia. The heat map updates every four to eight hours, showing the most popular destinations, points of origin, and travel routes.

According to the map, in a report made public in the Hong Kong-based publication, other cities that were destinations for the fleeing tourists were Ganzhou, Jiangxi, Guangxi Yulin, Chenzhou, Hunan and Zhejiang Ningbo. The Baidu live map visualizes the hottest migration routes. From 12 noon to 8 pm, the rush was on.

The question now is whether the sex trade will return to Dongguan, à la regularly shuttered pirated DVD shops, or the party is well and truly over.


Is it time to legalize prostitution in China?

Posted: 02/11/2014 3:08 pm

CCTV’s exposé into Dongguan’s seedy sex industry and resulting police crackdown has prompted some to question whether it’s time prostitution is brought out from the dark and into the light as a legalized and regulated profession.

It’s hard for some to fathom, but prostitution is illegal in China despite it being available in brothels, bath houses, “scissorless haircut” barbershops, massage parlours, on cards flung into taxis by touts, and even on the street. It’s so ubiquitous already that the police (for the most part) have turned a blind eye to it.

Many believe the crackdown in Dongguan is a sign the Communist Party, under Xi Jinping, wants to clean up the sleaze. But others are arguing for the opposite. From today’s South China Morning Post:

Nicholas Bequelin, a Hong Kong-based researcher with Human Rights Watch, said the CCTV report and the ensuing crackdown had unintended consequences.

“It’s a much more wide-spaced debate about the sex trade than we have seen in the past,” he told the South China Morning Post. “For the first time, there is a debate that includes the possibility of legalising sex work.”

“What triggered the discussion this time was how callous the CCTV report was.” Bequelin said. “Its absolute lack of sympathy or understanding has apparently triggered a lot of outrage and indignation.”

In its Tuesday editorial, the Beijing Times blasted the nation’s media for putting sex workers at the centre of their discussions of the sex trade. “If the focus is not put on higher levels [of the industry], and if those who organise and protect the trade are not exposed, […] then there will be others joining the trade tomorrow,” it read.

Those already in the industry face a fine of up to RMB5,000 and 15 days in jail if they’re caught. 

One solution might be found next door in Hong Kong, where prostitution is legal provided it is between two consenting adults in a private room. Would something like this work in China? Is it time to legalize prostitution here?


Dongguan brothels required to keep healthy supply of Communist Party newspapers

Posted: 11/15/2012 2:55 pm

A blogger from the South China Morning Post has published a rather interesting story: a new policy in Dongguan is forcing hotels, KTV joints, brothels, and internet cafes to subscribe to several party newspapers, including the People’s Daily.

The blog post doesn’t say which policy this is or which level of government introduced it, but we assume it must be the Tangsha District government as that’s where the regulation will be enforced.

Naturally, the blogger says, this has drawn derision from those on Weibo:

“Do we expect prostitutes to read People’s Daily now?” said a Sina Weibo user.

Dongguan’s sleazy salons and hotels have been known to provide illegal erotic services.

“We finally have toilet paper in our hotels now,” said another Weibo user.

Some party papers are quite hard to find way down here in Dongguan, so all the more incentive for CPC fans to swing by their nearest bath-house for the latest news on the National People’s Congress.  They aren’t hard to find, anyway.

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