China Central Television (CCTV) revealed Saturday that a dozen hotels in Guangdong's Dongguan offered sex services, triggering online opposition voices that defend prostitution in China. During the "standoff," reports said that more than 6,000 policemen were dispatched to arrest a total of 67 people and shut down 12 entertainment venues involved in providing sex services. Provincial leaders expressed their steadfast resolution to address both the symptoms and root causes of the rampant sex trade.
The "anti-prostitution campaign" has long topped the list of China's social conundrums. It is inevitable to hear negative public opinion because CCTV is negatively viewed by a certain number of Web users. Nonetheless, prompting a swift wipeout of the illicit venues, CCTV has fully demonstrated its capacity to offer objective reports and wield incredible influence.
The anti-prostitution movement has been mired in a deadlock for years. For one, public opinion is divided on this issue and there is indeed groundswell for such voices as "supporting Dongguan." For another, there is constant demand for prostitution. Plus, some think that the business is harmless and rather beneficial and others even maintain that China should learn certain countries in setting up legal red-light districts.
Since the adoption of the reform and opening-up policy in 1978, China's social administration focused on "sex" has gradually turned into a public security-related problem. Almost every big and medium-sized city witnesses prostitution business to different degrees, so the public is not optimistic that it will be eradicated.
Chinese people both home and abroad hold a relatively stringent attitude toward the sex industry. Though there do exist legal red-light zones in Chinese community overseas, it is far from becoming as open as the Netherlands. Furthermore, mainstream public opinion on the Chinese mainland displays more hostile sentiments to the sex trade. The comments going viral online these days show the discontent with public power.
Different countries, even among Western nations, adopt distinctive means to cope with the sex trade industry and there is no paragon in this regard. China is supposed to choose a way most consistent with its national realities and most conducive to its comprehensive social governance. "Sexual freedom" makes no sense in this "public opinion war" because it is totally different from "freedom of the sex trade."
The crackdown on flourishing prostitution in Guangdong is a critical signal that China is continuing with its tough mission of the nationwide campaign against prostitution and that participating in prostitution involves high stakes and consequence.
The Dongguan disturbance also manifests that online public opinion will probably be too vulnerable to withstand a single blow if it contradicts the mainstream trend. China's authorities do not lose control of public opinion, like some once thought.
The high-key vice crackdown throughout the so-called "City of Sin" is in no way the end of China's campaign against prostitution. Society will garner more consensus on this quandary.