Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage on

Hong Kong police on alert after China sex industry crackdown

By Peter Shadbolt, CNN
updated 3:33 AM EST, Mon February 17, 2014
An alleged sex worker covers her face after being detained in Dongguan, China, on February 9, 2014
An alleged sex worker covers her face after being detained in Dongguan, China, on February 9, 2014
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hong Kong police plan to step up operations against vice operations
  • The move follows a crackdown on prostitution across border in Dongguan
  • Senior police fear vice may shift to Hong Kong in the wake of police raids
  • The Chinese government has indicated that a vice crackdown has gone nationwide

(CNN) -- Hong Kong police plan to step up efforts against vice operations in the city following a massive crackdown on prostitution last week across the Chinese border, where police in Dongguan raided 2000 establishments and detained more than 900 people.

Senior Hong Kong police expressed fears that the Special Administrative Zone could fill the vice vacuum left after the raids by more than 6000 police on the Chinese industrial city just 60 miles (100km) to the north.

Commissioner of Police Andy Tsang Wai-hung told local media that police would be stepping up operations against the sex trade, adding that proliferation of vice in the territory was a concern following the crackdown.

"There is definitely potential for the sex trade to suddenly grow quickly here but it won't just be confined to a rise in prostitution," a senior Hong Kong police office told the South China Morning Post. "It will bring with it all the usual vice that goes with it: narcotics, money laundering, triad protection."

Report: Nations not fighting trafficking
China seizes rare animal products

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security on Sunday ordered police across China to step up efforts to tackle the "three vices" -- prostitution, gambling and drug trafficking -- warning officials they would be held accountable for illegal activities.

While Dongguan, situated between the large population zones of Shenzhen and Guangzhou, has long been associated with prostitution -- it is known as China's "sin city" -- China's Ministry of Public Security has indicated it will not limit the crackdown to the city, and that the operations will also target officials benefiting from the trade.

"Be resolute with the crackdown no matter who is involved, and regardless of what official ranks they are at, with no leniency or soft-heartedness," the ministry said in a post on its website over the weekend.

Dongguan deputy mayor and police chief Yan Xiaokang was fired from his post last week and ten other senior police officers have been subject to a range punishments in the wake of the raids, state media reported.

Other provinces including Zhejiang, Gansu, Shandong, Guangxi and Heilongjiang have conducted their own vice raids in recent days, indicating that the campaign has been directed from the central government.

Dubbed the "exterminate yellow" campaign -- the color in China associated with prostitution -- the crackdown comes after a report by the national broadcaster CCTV on the sex industry in Dongguan.

There is definitely potential for the sex trade to suddenly grow quickly here
Hong Kong poice senior officer

According to media reports cited by the English-language China Daily, Dongguan -- with a large and shifting migrant population from across China -- could have as many as 300,000 working in the illegal industry, despite harsh penalties for involvement.

The nationwide clampdown on the three vices is the latest target for the government of President Xi Jinping, which promised a widescale crackdown on rampant graft when it came to power in 2012.

Xi has also been behind an austerity drive to rein in extravagant spending, banning officials from serving exotic dishes such as shark fin soup at banquets.

Anger over corruption has prompted a raft of "mass incidents," an official euphemism for protests, worrying officials defending one-party rule.

Last year, Xi vowed to crack down on both "tigers" and "flies" -- powerful leaders and lowly bureaucrats -- in his campaign against corruption and petty officialdom.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 2:01 PM EDT, Sun April 13, 2014
CNN's Brian Stelter talks with CCTV correspondent Jim Spellman on how the Chinese media has covered MH370's mystery.
China's economy has bested many others in just the past 10 years.
updated 2:02 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
In China, users of the "Life Black Box" website can set up final farewells to their friends in case they suddenly die.
updated 1:32 AM EDT, Fri April 11, 2014
A recent university study claims Chinese micro-blogging activity might not be as vibrant as expected.
updated 6:14 AM EDT, Thu April 10, 2014
Chinese art has been fetching some serious cash -- here's how we can elbow into the market
updated 10:51 PM EDT, Wed April 9, 2014
A Shanghainese collector paid $36 million for this tiny cup decorated with chickens.
updated 2:57 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
Ben Richardson on corruption in China: a veil of secrecy shrouds the links between power and wealth.
China's economy is slowing and growth in 2014 could fall short of the government's official target, according to a CNNMoney survey of economists.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Tue April 8, 2014
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is the first foreigner to visit the Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning.
updated 9:26 PM EDT, Sun April 6, 2014
If the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 caused a rift in China-Malaysia relations, the two countries appear to have put it behind them.
updated 1:17 AM EDT, Fri April 4, 2014
Martin Jacques argues that in the twenty-first century, China will challenge our perception of what it is to be modern.
A new survey of university students in China shows where they most want to work. What are the dream employers for Chinese students?
updated 9:24 AM EDT, Wed April 2, 2014
What are President Xi Jinping's greatest goals as he visits the EU headquarters in Brussels?
Last year, thousands of Chinese tourists flocked to Yellowstone National Park to view the mountains, the buffalo and Old Faithful.
updated 8:38 AM EDT, Mon March 31, 2014
A senior Bloomberg News journalist quit his role earlier this month, saying the "mishandling" by his bosses of a story critical of China was behind his departure.
updated 7:55 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
"The aim is to let [families of MH370 passengers] express anger while keeping them restrained," says a Chinese official.
updated 9:58 AM EDT, Thu March 27, 2014
U.S. President Barack Obama's secret weapon in China? Michelle.
updated 10:53 PM EDT, Wed March 26, 2014
Private schools that employ humanistic pedagogy for young children are becoming popular in China. A look at the factors behind the boom and potential pitfalls.
ADVERTISEMENT