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A writer for CLM Magazine and CLM Social Pages, Achelle is also an independent blogger, giving her two cents on personal and social issues from an educated Filipina's point of view, especially those relating to love and relationships. She has a knack for tackling issues from unique angles that are often left unexplored, posing questions that move and challenge readers to view a certain issue from a wholly different perspective. Achelle is happily engaged to her childhood sweetheart and is currently based in the Philippines. Achelle's writing is a delight to read and highly enlightening, entertaining and thought provoking. You're going to see lots of her on our Emagazine, Blogs, Social Pages and Hubs. Enjoy
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And They Weren’t Even Trying to Be Funny!    

By Achelle Vinzon
3033 Views | 8 Comments | 4/1/2014 2:31:45 PM

The crackdown on prostitution in Dongguan revealed to the world that prostitution is alive and well in China, at least until now. However, before and after all this, while Dongguan was known to many as a sexual extravaganza, and to others as Sin City, very few would have thought of the city as a center of Romance in China!

If by “most romantic” they meant “sleaziest,” then okay, naming Dongguan as one of the top 3 most romantic cities in China would make more sense! 

As unintentional as the comic quality is, the report that ranked China’s sex capital as the third most romantic city in the country is simply rib-tickling!  And it was released right on the heels of the harshest anti-prostitution crackdown in Dongguan by the government, wherein 6,000 police officers made a sweep of the city; raided hotels, clubs, massage parlors, karaoke bars, and other establishments; shut down 12 venues; and arrested 67 people.  .    

The Global Times reported in January that an estimated 2,700 workers in China’s Sin City were infected with HIV/AIDS.  This comes as no surprise given Dongguan’s flourishing sex industry.  And then according to a recent Xinhua report, “based on 2013 sales of love, wedding, and romantically themed books, e-books and CDs in cities across China,” Dongguan is among the most romantic cities in the country.  (Source).   

Perhaps these sales reflect the men of Dongguan trying to make amends for their wandering ways by buying their girlfriends or wives presents?  Or have the men in Dongguan, and those that visit the city, been enamored by the prostitutes and have chosen to show their affection through gifts?  Both speculations sound ridiculous, right?  Well, the premise is also ridiculous! 

The more logical assumption would be that the sales numbers are merely the result of the fact that Dongguan is one of the country’s export industry’s manufacturing hubs.  The city is a major business and economic center, so of course the retail industry would be booming!

It is also surprising that Dongguan beat bigger cities, such as Beijing and Shanghai, with their sales numbers, as the survey results supposedly revealed. 

This most recent and most severe crackdown on prostitution, many say, is the result of the epidemic rise of HIV/AIDS cases in China, which is blamed on the explosion of the sex trade in the country.  It is also widely believed that prostitution in Dongguan has been allowed to run rampant by the local police and government officials.  This clean-up operation, which is part of the government’s three-pronged approach to eradicate what the country calls the “three vices” (gambling, drugs, and prostitution), also aims “to expunge the image of corruption associated with Chinese officials.” (Source)

But how the crackdown was carried out and publicized have been the subject of criticism by many Chinese netizens; many have voiced their opinion that the move only succeeded in shaming the women, when the government should, instead, address the root cause of the problem.  Some have even suggested that legalizing and regulating prostitution may be the more viable option.  

So far, the crackdown has resulted in either the slowing down or complete loss of business for many establishments (including those that weren’t shut down) and certain individuals (such as taxi drivers) that also partake of the local sex trade’s profits.  (Perhaps the sales of romantically-themed items have experienced a steep fall!)

Here are a few excerpts of interviews from Dongguan locals:

““In Dongguan, two out of five people will lose their jobs if the situation doesn’t return to normal,” said Lin Yadong, a club manager, who wore a blue scarf and stiletto boots. A woman next to her said, “If we don’t reopen, how will we eat?””

“At the Cannes, a rival club, an accountant who gave only his surname, Huang, said the crackdown was “a real pain — no one knows whether to go home or stay, or go somewhere else to look for work.””

“A private driver said the city’s hotels and clubs would not be viable without the sex industry. “Who goes to a bar if there are no girls?” he said. “You can’t keep the alcohol down if there are no girls to drink with.” The driver, who gave only his surname, Liu, said that he sometimes made $120 a night in commissions from brothels for bringing clients to them. “It’s affected all drivers,” he said of the crackdown. “I’ll just have to be more frugal.”” (Source)

The scale of the government crackdown in Dongguan is so large and, combined with the equally large sex industry in the city, the possibility that a considerable number of displaced prostitutes would move to nearby Hong Kong and continue their trade there is a real worry for Hong Kong officials. 

I think I have strayed a bit from the original premise of this blog – which is that the report that named Dongguan as one of the top three most romantic cities in China is ridiculously funny.  It’s hard not to stray given that the basis for such a claim is so flimsy, and given that the issue is actually a very serious one and deserves to be taken seriously!  Maybe they’re trying to make light of an unfortunate situation?  Maybe it’s their way of helping the people of Dongguan recover from the great loss of face that they endured and from which they are still suffering?  Perhaps they’re going for an ultimate makeover?  None of these suppositions are meant to be sarcastic.  The city of Dongguan and its people, especially the prostitutes, deserve a second chance to rebuild their image and their lives.  What can be more romantic than that?     

Copyright owned jointly by Author and CyberCupid Co., Ltd. Breach of copyright will be prosecuted.
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#2014-04-01 14:43:04 by JohnAbbot @JohnAbbot

As most countries have learned, if you shut down prostitution in one place, like a bad weed it just pops up somewhere else nearby. But at least China has finally stopped pretending it doesn't exist. That's a giant step forward in at least trying to get the inevitable sex diseases that accompany the weed under some sort of control. Nice blog Achelle.

#2014-04-01 23:03:42 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

A very well written and sensible blog - well done!

I have been a frequent visitor to DG for many years and have been well aquainted with the prostitution and 'night-life' there
However, despite what other's may think, I do not pay for sex nor would I engage the services of a hooker. However, that does not preclude me for having a damn good time, great nights out and enjoying the company of friends who may or may not decide to indulge themselves

Dongguan (particularly Chang Ping) is well-known for it's KTV bars, night clubs, saunas, massage parlours etc etc
It is also well known as being one of the best places for 'night-life' (in general) in the whole of China

Girls from all over the country head there to 'ply their trade' (while they are so young and beautiful) - but why? - Reason.... the 'market'

Guys from all over the world will head there to escape the mundane day-to-day monotony of everyday life for a few luxurious days where they can fantasize in the arms of some beautiful girl who maybe 30 years younger than they are

Whether you agree or disagree, these girls provide a 'service' and they provide some kind of 'escapism' for their older clients

Forget the 'right or wrong' (in your own mind) for a moment and try to consider the knock-on-effect of this 'crackdown'

Coffee shops, taxi drivers, clothes shops, make-up (cosmetic) parlours etc etc - indeed the essential INFRASTRUCTURE of this whole town is dependent on the hookers and their clients

Take away the girls, you take away the clients, you take away the business of the INNOCENT people who only want to sell you a cup of coffee

Whilst China maybe 'shaking it's fist' and showing its 'might' to the world whilst clamping down on prostitution, it is probably doing more harm than good - especially to the innocent businesses in Dongguan - and will probably end up regretting their actions when it comes to tax-time!

Over the years I have met many international travelers in DG - Canadians, Americans, Aussies, British and many other western men who have been there for the first time and have simply been 'blown-away' with what they have seen

On the other hand, I have met many Singaporeans, Malaysians, HK people, Taiwanese, even Japanese who regularly go there simply for the 'fun'!

For the un-initiated, Dongguan (Changping) is situated just north of Shenzhen. Shenzhen borders with Hong Kong and if you take the train from SZ to Guangzhou then the first town you get to is called Zhangmutou (some 15 minutes from SZ)

ZMT is also known as 'second-wives-city' in China because many, many HK guys have a girlfriend or even a 'second-wife' and family there

They know that she can never go to HK and also know that there genuine HK wife cannot go to China (passport is required and many do not have nor can afford) - so never-the-twain will meet

The next station is Dongguan, Changping - followed by ShiLong and then GZ - total journey time is about 90 minutes - so the intermediate towns between SZ and GZ are not too far apart

I can take a car from HK airport to Changping and I can arrive in a little more than 2 hours, despite the HK/China border being 45 minutes to 1 hour from HK International airport

As for DG being 'romantic' - that is a complete joke!

If any man (Eastern or Western) thinks he can find romance in DG or CP with a hooker, then he is delusional and should be the subject of a future 'Sad Bastard' Blog!

Also, if anyone thinks that the 'Valentines Day Crackdown' was only in Dongguan, then they know nothing - it happened all over China, but Dongguan was the most focused on due to the fact there are so many KTV bars offering sex-for-sale

Prostitution is essentially LEGAL in Australia. However, it is regulated to licensed brothels where girls undergo regular check-ups. Picking up 'street-meat' is not allowed, nor are 'call-out-girls' to a persons home

Therefore, Australia (generally) does not have a problem with sexually transmitted diseases, yet at the same time provides a legitimate 'service' to all the 'sad bastards' who find the need to pay for sex

Like every industry in life, it has its pro's and con's and should not be judged on its appearance only

However, it is my opinion that China's hard-line approach to prostitution recently may have been well-meant, but the ramifications and 'ripple-effect' have not been thought through

#2014-04-02 13:37:38 by Barry1 @Barry1


"This clean-up operation, which is part of the government’s three-pronged approach to eradicate what the country calls the “three vices” (gambling, drugs, and prostitution)"

It was reported here during the week that China faces another major problem. That is, the HUGE amounts of investment related debt that's owed by local government beaurocracies, cities and towns.

The central government in Beijing as late as mid 2013 tried to clamp down on excessive bank lending by raising interbank lending rates to unprecedented high levels, but failed to reihgn in the sky rocketing debt. Because as lending from conventional banks dried up, borrowers started dealing with "shadow banks" that by their very arcane nature are impossible to be regulated by the government.

A financial analyst said in some respects, China's current fiscal position is eerily similar to that of the USA, a few years before the 2008 global financial crisis. He predicted financial crunch time in China around occur in about five years time, say around 2019.

The city of Wuhan was used as an example. It's borrowed huge amounts of money to fund its explosion in infrastructure, ranging from the building of multiple high rise apartment buildings through to many new subways. Billions of dollars have been borrowed. But how will it be repaid? In similar vein, China as a whole has borrowed TRILLIONS of dollars, way more than is GDP (gross domestic product).

Exacerbating the problem are huge levels of endemic corruption. Many local officials have become wealthy off the backs of the struggling working class. Of course, the government attempts to stop such activities, but they seem powerless to prevent it.

China may indeed well be a miracle country that forged ahead in recent years whilst the rest of the world stumbled and foundered. But somewhere down the track, the piper will have to be paid, as the saying goes. The burgeoning gap between the ultra wealthy and the poor continues to increase. The government seems incapable of controlling corruption. And the alarming rise of the "shadow banks" feeding huge amounts of largely untraceable money to local authorities and other large scale developers doesn't augur well for the financial future and economic stability of the country. Because what goes up, must eventually come down.

I foresee economic troubles ahead for China around the end of this decade. Watch this space.

#2014-04-15 19:02:57 by melcyan @melcyan

@ barry1 I don't understand the economic meltdown you are predicting. The Chinese government will back all government businesses but private enterprises will be left to fend for themselves. There will be some bank exposure. Foreign money will be lost. Government owned banks will survive. Private banks are at risk. How is the problem similar to the USA? China is close to the highest money saving country in the world.
If China goes down, who will be left standing? If China goes down the world will be revisiting the 1930's.

#2014-04-16 18:36:29 by Barry1 @Barry1


Hello Melcyan. Thanks for your comments. Though with the greatest of respect, I don't know where you get your "facts" from?

Let me elaborate.

Just two days ago for example, the "Financial Times" stated that in the past two months, China has suffered its first domestic bond default in recent history and a series of small bankruptcies that have some investors fretting the country could face its very own “Lehman moment”. They advised that financial risks have ballooned there as China has added new credit roughly equal to the size of the entire US banking system, in just the past five years.

Total debt as a percentage of GDP has increased from 130 per cent in 2008 to about 220 per cent at the end of last year, according to estimates from Fitch Ratings. An increase of that speed and scale has almost always been succeeded by a crisis in other economies.

The big concern in China is that much of the debt build-up – as much as half of all credit extended last year by some estimates – has happened in the opaque and lightly regulated “shadow banking” sector. This is where parallels with the 2008 GFC come into play as follows.

Much of the credit coming from the shadows goes to risky, high-interest loans to struggling property developers, steel mills or glass factories that cannot borrow directly from the more regulated state banks. A sizeable portion of these multiyear loans are then repackaged into poorly documented financial products with maturities of just several months. Sound familiar with what happened in the USA in 2008, where murky financial instruments rated as AAA by the credit agencies, were being traded globally yet were effectively almost worthless.

In China, the similarly murky financial products created by the obscure "shadow banks" are then sold through conventional banks to ordinary investors, with promised returns that are well above government-capped deposit rates. I can easily see that as the mountains of credit related debt builds up over the next few years created by the "shadows" - like boiling water in a pressure cooker - finally a financial explosion may well occur.

So those who believe China's financial system is safe and sound are living in an airy fairy dreamland. Sorry about that, but if you don't believe what I say, simply read the above "Financial Times" article of 14 April, 2014. This is but one source of many, who are warning that serious financial troubles may well be in store for China over the coming decade. I won't bore you with any other sources as this is a dating website (not a financial one!), but I hope you get the picture here, Melcyan.

#2014-04-16 20:59:34 by paulfox1 @paulfox1

Most of the time I read your posts and comments and find I respect you. However, this time you appear to have no idea what's going on

Banks? The Commonwealth Bank of Australia can make 700 BILLION dollars in order to satisfy its shareholders and not bat an eyelid! Even then they are under pressure to make more - when is enough enough?

Economics is NOT about banks, it is about real-life and a chain of events that keep people in business

Your OPINION means nothing !!!!

21-year old hookers attract 70 year old men
70 Year old men have money to pay the hookers and to pay for hotel rooms
Restaurants, cafes, coffee shops open so that the 70 year old man can take the 21-year old hooker out for breakfast, lunch, dinner and coffee
Clothes shops and cosmetic shops open so that the 21-year old hooker can keep herself looking smart and beautiful for her 70-year old man
Fruit stalls open so that at 3pm in the afternoon the 70 year old man can buy some tasty fruit to share with his 21-year old hooker as they spend some 'quality-time' together in the park before heading back to the 5-star restaurant for a delicious dinner - all paid for by the 70-year old's deep pockets

Take away the hooker, you take away the 70-year old man
No hooker = no man = no cafe = no restaurant = no fruit stall = no clothes shop = no cosmetic shop
All of the 'innocent' shops fall over simply because the government decide to crackdown on ONE particular industry

THAT is true economics !

#2014-04-17 12:26:02 by melcyan @melcyan

@Barry1 Sometimes I regret making a comment. China's economic past, present and future is too difficult a topic for this site ( or any site). I was wondering if you ever watch TED talks on China. I thoroughly recommend them to CLM members.
Just go to and then on the TED site enter “China” in the search
Currently this gives rise to 279 TED talks on China. Most of the ones I have viewed have been amazing. TED's slogan is "Ideas worth spreading" and they stay true to their word.
The first four on the search at the moment are
1. Shao Lan: Learn to read Chinese …... with ease.
2. Eric X. : A tale of two political systems.
3. Dambisi Moyo : Is China the idol for emerging economies?
4. Abigail Washburn : Building US – China relations … by banjo.
All four are worth watching but number 3 is the most relevant to what you have said.
Number 4 is only six and a half minutes long but it will make you think, laugh and cry and some TED members rate it the best they have seen.

#2014-04-18 13:13:32 by dancingshoes @dancingshoes

capital of sex? Every large city has the sex-for-sale anywhere, not only in Dongguan. The "red-light district" exists in many large cities in China. While the CCTV was exposing the prostitution on some day in February, Dongguan became the center of the public voice storm, and we read on Weibo (something like Twitter) that many old poor Chinese men were teasing, " Hold on, Dongguan, we are with you tonight!" It sounds they regret that they would not have more chance to enjoy the sex service that they dreamed in Dongguan now that the crackdown was carried out.

Dongguan was well known ever once in the history (175+ years ago) due to the Opium combustion in Humen, Dongguan, occured in Qing Dynasty. It made a heavy hit to the opium trade plunder of the Britain invaders, and woke up a lot of far-insight Chinese people to fight for the new China. This was the fight against drugs. Today Dongguan came again into our sights because of the prostitution crackdown.

Where there is a demand, there is a supply. Dongguan grew into a capital of sex because of its “advantages” – the location and the residents. If you look at the map you will find that, Dongguan is located in the center of the Pearl River Delta Region. It has the most convenient traffic to anywhere. To the west you reach Guangzhou, to the south is Macao. It takes only 2 hours from Dongguan to Hongkong. For example, a business owner from Hongkong made one business negotiation in Guangzhou in the morning, after lunch he would drive to Dongguan to have some entertainment together with his business partners. And he could go back to Hongkong in the evening to his home. Second, Dongguan is the capital of manufacturing (clothes, shoes, electronic parts, toys, plastics, etc. and other things of “made in China”). There were a lot of migrant workers. In the last 20 years, the population has increased by more than 370 times. At the beginning, some young worker girls didn’t like the hard work in the factories, and they chose the quick way to make money being a hooker. At that time, there was a very hot word “migrant job-seeking girls” (外来妹)on TV and any newspapers in 1990’s, and a lot of stories about them. The male who paid for sex might be the people incl. the business owners from Hongkong or Taiwan, the single male migrant workers. Nowadays, there were some student girls, white-collar office ladies and some third-level stars, even the Russian girls and Southeast Asian girls joining the team to dig gold. And the men now who paid for sex included even the government workers, western men, and even some big potatoes in some field. It really grew into an international “capital of sex”.

The sex industry chain has broken in Dongguan that doesn’t mean the economic situation all over China is getting down. We have a great expectation to our new head Mr. Xi and Premier Li who are very powerful to execute the anti-corruption and confident to the social economic reform, innovation and structural adjustment . Prostitution crackdown was just a prelude to re-build some rules on the ruins. If you give a glimpse at the recent Boao Forum 2014 held in Hainan China, you would notice that, in this high level dialogue around the world, the sustainable development issues in Asia especially the new economic driver of the region became the hot topics this year. It was also concerned that what solutions and policies China would take in the next step. The world's economy is gradually coming out of the turmoil that was caused by the GFC in 2008/2009. Some of the markets are now starting to achieve a growth factor that is moving back to levels similar to those prior to the crisis. What has happened is the structural change that has occurred in a number of markets which means that the way of doing business has been changed.

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