Three years ago, Dongguan’s former Party chief Liu Zhigeng was asked by netizens about his thoughts on the city’s new nickname – China’s Sex Capital. Liu avoided even repeating the name and shushed it as an “exterior misconception”.
Now that the city’s sex trade is under the national media spotlight following the China Central Television exposé, Liu would be unable to brush aside such accusations again. Even more than that, it turns out the city’s sex trade is so massive that it turns over RMB 50 billion ($8.25 billion) annually to the local economy, about 10 percent of the city’s GDP (RMB 510 billion), Chinese newspaper New Beijing Daily reported on February 11.
The city has even developed a whole chain of sex services from mobile text broadcasting to “massages”. The full-fledged service line has been coined as “Guan-style standardization” or “ISO,” lauding its sophistication, the report said.
One of the reasons behind the city’s booming sex trade was large inflows of migrant workers, according to the newspaper. At the height of the city’s economic development, it employed around 8 million migrant workers, according to a research report. The actual figures, however, were estimated to be at least of 12 million, the newspaper said.
Dongguan, which also has a large concentration of starred hotels, made the venues easy and available for the patrons and sex workers. Covering an area of 2,654 square kilometers, the city is home to more than 90-starred hotels and 20 five-star ones, the report said.
The South China Morning Post adds to this today, quoting Bob Yao who has connections to the sex trade in Dongguan:
A night’s stay in a two-bed deluxe room at the Silverland Hotel, the city’s oldest five-star hotel, costs about 250 yuan (HK$320).
Women factory workers – some laid off, others who left willingly – provide the service.
“A young prostitute can get between 100 and 500 yuan for each transaction. It’s easy for them to make between 20,000 and 50,000 yuan a month,” Yao said. “Sex hotels are everywhere. If a female migrant worker lost her job at a factory, she could join the industry.”
So what should Dongguan be known for? China’s sex capital? The world’s sweatshop factory? A concrete jungle or a culture desert?
In a search for the city’s identity, netizens dug up a quote by the city’s mayor Yuan Baocheng in March last year. He was asked if Dongguan is China’s sex capital, and answered: “Dongguan is Dongguan, and it is a virtuous, practical, tolerant and open city.”
Is Yuan correct? Or is it just another misconception?
Home page photo credit: Sohu