Local police in Beijing have treated "extra" services at massage parlors or hair salons as prostitution for over a decade, contrary to police in Guangdong Province, who are unable to prosecute establishments that provide masturbation or "breast massage" based on a court ruling.
Police officers in Beijing were quoted by the Beijing Times as saying on Thursday that these services are considered to have violated the prostitution ban, and have been the targets of crackdowns.
Beijing police have based their actions on a reply given to the local police in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region in 2001, who had asked for clarification. This stipulated that offering services, including oral sex and masturbation to either the same or different sexes alike in exchange for money, is regarded as an act of prostitution, in accordance with the regulations on administrative penalties for public security.
The regulations were abolished in 2006 and have since been replaced with a law with a similar name.
The response from the Beijing police came after it was revealed that parlors where female masseurs gave men masturbation or "breast massage" would not be prosecuted on criminal charges as those acts did not involve actual intercourse, following a 2012 ruling by Foshan Intermediate People's Court in Guangdong Province.
However, Liu Dalai, a criminal lawyer from Beijing Lianggao Law Firm, told the Global Times the Guangdong court was following the criminal law strictly. "Of course, those services are not morally right, but we cannot give them criminal punishment simply because of that."
"China's criminal law stipulates that organizing or sheltering prostitution is regarded as a crime, while engaging in prostitution means an administrative penalty of a detention from 10 to 15 days and a fine of up to 5,000 yuan ($813)," Liu said, adding that only those crimes written in the Criminal Law can be applied.
The Guangdong provincial high court said late Wednesday that how to define the offense as to offering services including masturbation and "breast massage" should be clarified by judicial organs or the lawmaking body.
Contrary to Guangdong's ruling, business owners who offer similar services were punished in Jiangsu and Fujian provinces respectively in 2012 and 2004.