Prostitution crackdown restores morality

Updated: 2014-02-18 20:24

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BEIJING - China's Ministry of Public Security (MPS) has demanded that the police continue to crack down on prostitution and pornography amid the government's campaign to promote core socialist values.

Prostitution crackdown restores morality

Prostitution crackdown expands nationwide

Prostitution crackdown restores morality

Special: Aftermath of the crackdown

As of Monday, police had captured 501 suspects and busted 73 gangs during the crackdown, the ministry said.

In northeast China's Heilongjiang Province, over 4,800 police officers raided more than 2,700 hotels and sauna rooms, checked 1,600 vehicles and investigated 2,700 people.

Cracking down on the "protective umbrella" of the industry is key to the operation, said an official of the provincial political science and law committee, who declined to be named.

The operation was carried out as top Chinese leaders called for efforts to bolster core socialist values and promote cultural and ethical progress.

Core socialist values include national goals of prosperity, democracy, civility and harmony; social goals of freedom, equality, justice and the rule of law; and individual values of patriotism, dedication, integrity and friendship.

President Xi Jinping on Monday called for greater efforts to promote such values and set up a value system with Chinese characteristics in line with the new era, calling them an important part of good governance.

The prostitution and pornography crackdown is considered to echo the call.

Prostitution has been outlawed in China since the People's Republic of China was founded in 1949. But urbanization, mass migration and the gap between rich and poor have all contributed to the country's booming sex trade. Besides, the profitable industry has lured people in.

"Our government should ponder on effective ways to eliminate the root cause of prostitution," said Zhu Lijia, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Governance.

Zhu said it is time for the government to find institutional solutions to the problem, as nearly two decades of crackdowns have not stopped the sex trade from growing.

Although there is no evidence, the Chinese public have long speculated that the local police have been protecting the sex trade, which stimulates local consumption and brings about job opportunities.

In response, the MPS on Sunday told police nationwide to severely punish those found guilty of misconduct and malpractice, as well as those who break laws while in charge of enforcement.

"No matter who is involved, no matter how high their positions, all must be investigated to the end, with absolutely no tolerance, " said the ministry.

"Cracking down on those who provide a 'safety umbrella' is only the first step, more efforts should be made to introduce a long-term mechanism concerning the oversight of the exercise of power," said Zhu.

The crackdown came hours after a China Central Television (CCTV) program on February 9 revealed that hotels in the southern city of Dongguan were offering sex services.

Footage shot using hidden cameras showed hotel managers offering sex services, not worried about the police. "We would be out of business otherwise," said one manager.

Yan Xiaokang, vice mayor of Dongguan and head of the city's Public Security Bureau, has been removed from his posts for dereliction of duty along with government officials and police officers involved.

Talking at a symposium on core socialist values last month, senior official Liu Yunshan asked Communist Party of China members and officials to take the lead in practicing such values.

The promotion of core socialist values will be an important factor when evaluating the performance of officials, he said.

Educators, social scientists and businesspeople considered cracking down on prostitution and pornography as an effective way to improve public morality.

"Those who think prostitution and pornography are not news have been misled. The government and society should realize the seriousness of the problem," said Fang Jundong, secretary of Youth League Committee of South China University of Technology in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.

Social openness and freedom have increased over the past three decades, accompanied by excessive liberalism, which has harmed social morality, said Liu Dongchao, a Marxism professor with the Chinese Academy of Governance, referring to online "moral support" for those involved in the Dongguan scandal.

A number of social networking website users expressed sympathy over Dongguan's prostitution industry by sharing encouraging phrases, such as "Dongguan, hang in there!" and "Today we are all Dongguan people."

"Such widespread online backlash against CCTV reflects the conflict and confrontation between mainstream social values and negative and ridiculous thoughts," Liu said.

"We want the country's teenagers to grow up in a healthy environment," added Fang Jundong.


Prostitution crackdown restores morality

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