A Close Look at China's "Sex Industry"

[related link:   Red Light District a book on prostitution in China]

by Zhong Wei  (Lianhe Zaobao -- Singapore October 2, 2000)

Summary:

There isn't very much reliable data about China's sex trade. For lack of good data, let's take a look at data released on anti vice campaigns since 1999. Take Beijing, for example. Two anti vice campaigns in Beijing during 1999 involved enforcement actions at 6000 hair salons, baths, and other establishments were vice is easily concealed. This July Beijing police arrested 4101 gamblers, and 1866 establishments in violation of vice laws. Each large sex establishment can house 100 prostitutes while a hair salon might have ten prostitutes. One can estimate from this that Beijing has at least 200,000 - 300,000 prostitutes.

Another example is Fuzhou. During a five days in July, 13,000 sexual companions were arrested and 5604 establishments were found in violation. Fuzhou seems to be in a worse situation than Beijing, so perhaps there are 100,000 prostitutes in Fuzhou.

Guangzhou and Shenzhen, as China's first windows to open to the Western world got an early start so the proliferation of prostitution there is even more astonishing.  There, prostitution is closely tied to organized crime, corrupt local officials, and underground vice marketing organizations that use hotels, places of entertainment and other semi-public locaux to provide sexual services.

Jiangsu Province: in Hangzhou City, at just one establishment, the Xunmeng Gewuting [Searching for Dreams Dance Hall] three or four hundred prostitutes and their clients congregate. In that region there is a big demand for prostitutes so that in Wuning City a "prostitute wholesaling center" appeared. In Yining City alone, there are 25 of these establishments and 40 underground exchanges.  There prostitutes wait for a boss from a sexual services center to come and take them away. Business is good.

In Wuhan, the call girl service has even developed to the point of needing a work permit. In Guangzhou to the city of Dongwan, there are many apartments where merchants from Hong Kong and Taiwan live -- the apartments rent girls to them. In Taiyuan, Shanxi Province, there are nearly 5000 registered dance halls and after investigation another 3000 turned up. Taiyuan may well be the world's prostitution capital -- just counting the "girls" working at the over twenty large "dance hall cities" and 60 sauna establishments, there are nearly 100,000 prostitutes. During the 1997 floods, many top officials were paying attention to the famous courtesan Chen Li...

In Jiangsu Province, Danyang district, prostitutes are known for stopping diners and trucks on the roads to offer their services. In Kunming and other places, prostitution "services" have developed to the point of vehicles with beds.

Prostitutes are people living on the edge, struggling for existence. If we estimate that 20 million prostitutes earn 25,000 RMB annually, that comes to 500 billion RMB or is 6 percent of the PRC GDP.  More over,  China's "new left" economist Yang Fan estimates that half of the prostitutes income goes to consumption, so that represents consumption of 250 Billion RMB. Prostitutes need quite a lot of equipment: beepers, cell phones, cabs, apartments or rooms in homes, expensive clothes and fine cosmetics and even bodyguards, pharmaceuticals.. so the sex industry may well move the economy along with an annual level of consumption of 1 trillion RMB.

The "sex industry" is certainly a significant part of the Chinese economy. When we consider that the Chinese GDP in 1998 and 1999 was 7.8 trillion RMB and 8.3 trillion RMB, the contribution of the "sex industry" to the GDP comes in at about 12.1 - 12.8 percent. Thus it is not moonshine to talk about the economic importance of the "sex industry". The economist Yang Fan even estimates that with the implementation of the "Regulations on the Management of Places of Entertainment" issued by the State Council during the latter half of 1999, the Chinese GDP dropped by one percent.
 

How did China's sex industry get to be so big? Over the past two decades, economic changes have been too big and have come to fast. Morals have been changing and the population pressure is more and more apparent. When everybody was poor, being rich was seen as evil.  The words "let a few get rich first" was a clever formula, but it didn't say just how this was to be done. Or which people in which areas in which classes could get rich first. As the old house collapses, some time is needed for the construction of new values and the rule of law. The combination of the traditional worship of power with the new worship of money created a disaster. Little could be done about it. Some relied on power to get money. Some relied on the protection of elders to get rich. Some got rich smuggling drugs.  From a situation where everyone lived in abject poverty to a situation where some people ate fish and traveled around in cars. People lost their moral bearings.  The old attitude "People laugh at poor people but don't laugh at prostitutes" re-emerged. Many traditional Chinese values were lost during the rapid development of the economy.  The reconstruction of a new morality still lies quite far often at the end of a long, dark tunnel.

The  sanbeinuu [prostitutes in dance halls, bars etc.] break down into three types:
-- From the countryside, very young with little education. They have no skills and have a hard time getting a decent job in the city so it is very easy for them to fall into that line of work. The cruelest fact is that after selling all of their self-respect they often kill them selves in their little hole in the underground spaces of the city.
-- The second type is the urban girl with a modicum of education who falls into this life because she want fancy things
-- The third type is the highly educated, pretty urban girl who goes into it voluntarily to have a golden nest.

As more and more rural people leave the limited lands in the countryside to move into the city, likewise are more and more industrial workers finding themselves jobless as the result of advancing technology.  There must be over a hundred million unemployed women. Where can they go?

Over the next fifty years, providing education and work for 1.3 billion people will be the most important task of the Chinese government. It is a nearly impossible task that must somehow be accomplished.

[Chinese text below in GB code]



透视中国的“性产业”

钟伟(北京)

  中国爱国诗人闻一多在其名作《死水》中这样写道:“这是一沟绝望的死水,清风
吹不起半点漪沦。不如多扔些破铜烂铁,爽性泼你的剩菜残羹……这是一沟绝望的死
水,这里断不是美的所在,不如让给丑恶来开垦,看他造出个什么世界。”这些话,可
以作为中国“性产业”现状的最好描绘。
 

“性产业”知多少?
 

  鉴于缺乏权威的统计数据,我们暂且只能从1999年以来政府“扫黄打非”的成果,
对此进行粗略估计。

  以北京为例,1999年北京市警方清理整顿小发廊、洗浴中心等易藏污纳垢的场所,
仅两次行动就查处色情场所逾6000家。今年7月北京警方集中整治小发廊、小歌舞厅、
小洗浴、小酒吧、小电子游艺录像厅等“五小场所”时,则查获涉黄赌人员4101名,查
处各类违法经营场所1866家。一般大型色情中心可容纳百余名妓女,小发廊亦有五至10
名不等。估计目前京城卖淫女数量至少在20万至30万之间。

  以福州为例,在今年7月在对娱乐服务场所的统一清查行动中,仅五日就清理性陪
侍小姐一万三千余人,清查各类场所5064家,福州黄赌之风似应烈于京城,“三陪小
姐”亦应在10万之众。

  作为对外交往窗口的广州、深圳因开放较早,色情场所和提供性服务“小姐”的数
目则更为惊人,已经发展到黑社会、腐败的地方政府官员和地下卖淫团伙有组织地勾结
起来,通过酒店、娱乐中心等半公开地提供性服务,深圳秦艺大酒店甚至到了“三陪小
姐”挂牌服务,任嫖客挑选的荒诞地步。从色情场所数目之庞大推测深粤及周边有数百
万人直接从事“性产业”,大体不过分。

  以浙江省为例,杭州市仅寻梦歌舞厅一家就每日集结卖淫女和嫖客三、四百人。因
在杭州、诸暨、浦江等地对卖淫女需求甚殷,在义乌一带竟形成了“卖淫女”批发市
场,仅在义乌市劳动力市场内的就有25家,地下交易场所近40家,“小姐”大都就地铺
张席子,或躺或坐,等待色情服务场所的“老板”或者“妈咪”来雇佣,交易颇为活
跃。

  在武汉,出现了“三陪小姐”要求审领就业证的奇闻。在广州至东莞,沿途的山间
别墅群则形成了慰为壮观的“二奶村”,别墅公寓中多为由港台客商包租的卖淫女。在
太原,仅公开登记的歌舞厅竟达到近5000家,经清理整顿后仍有3000多家,其密度可谓
全球领先,“三陪女”数目之惊人自不待言,仅在20多个大规模歌城和60多家桑拿浴室
中的“小姐”即有近10万人。在1997年洪水肆虐的荆门市,卖淫女陈丽则以其鲜廉寡耻
击倒了诸多官僚,竟出任掇刀开发区工委宣传部副部长,惹得市委宣传部、文化局、广
播电视局、新闻出版局、荆门报社弃百年洪水于不顾,纷纷由一把手在荆门市的豪华大
酒店里轮流坐庄,为陈丽接风洗尘。
 

  在江苏丹阳的乡间小路,卖淫女以招揽食宿为名,冒险在公路拦截汽车献媚司机,
竟成一时之风气。在昆明等地,卖淫女已经将“业务”拓展到设有卧铺的汽车上。就连
地处太行山深处、产生过愚公移山辉煌故事的山西陵川县这样闭塞的山区,“小姐”也
大有人在。
 

  估计目前在中国淹没到“性产业”这一沟绝望死水中的卖淫女不少于500万人,如
果每个人带动三个辅助就业,则中国“性产业”从业人员约达2000万人,让人几乎无法
接受这样的残酷现实。
 

撑起了中国经济的一角?
 

  卖淫女的生存状态极为悬殊,有的处于艰难卖笑求生的边缘,有的则养尊处优,如
果假定2000万性从业人员的年均收入为2万5000元人民币的话,则其收入总额约在5000
亿元,约占国内生产总值总额的6%左右。此外,中国“新左派”经济学家杨帆假定“性
产业”群体的收入中约有50%用于消费,则每年消费额为2500亿。“性产业”从业人员
的消费是有很强带动能力的:卖淫女需配备寻呼机、手机,需要出租车、租公寓或民
居,需要购置高级服装和化妆品,甚至需要配备保镖,并可能带动赌博业、医药业、宾
馆和旅游业等等。如果估计“性产业”群体的消费支出乘数(就是每一块钱“性消费”
带动的其他消费支出)为四倍的话,那么由“性产业”带动的年社会总消费额竟达1万
亿!
 

  “性产业”竟然撑起了中国经济的一角?考虑到1998和1999年中国国内生产总值分
别为7万8000亿和8万3000亿元的话,则“性产业”直接和间接的贡献,居然占国内生产
总值的12.1%-12.8%!这样看来说“性产业”撑起中国经济之一角也许不是天方夜谈。
杨帆先生甚至估计在国务院颁发的《娱乐场所管理条例》于1999年下半年正式实施后,
导致国内生产总值增长下滑了一个百分点。

未来50年面临的首要问题
 

  中国的黄色事业是如何兴盛起来的?答案恐怕在于这20年间中国经济发生的变化太
多太快,而道德重建和庞大的人口压力日益凸显。

在过去人皆赤贫的时代,富裕被视为一种罪恶,而“允许一部分人先富起来”是一句富
有艺术性的话,它没有阐明政府容忍哪些人可以通过哪些手段富裕起来,它也没有阐明
哪些地区哪些城市的哪种阶层可以富裕到何种程度。在旧的大厦崩塌的同时,新的道德
和法制的重建需要一个渐进的过程,结果传统的“权力崇拜”和新兴的“金钱崇拜”泛
滥成灾,难以收拾。一些人靠权力致富了,一些人靠父辈的庇荫致富了,一些人靠走私
贩毒致富了,一些人靠巧取豪夺致富了。而这些不法的致富者并非都感受到“法网恢
恢,疏而不漏”的威慑。从人皆赤贫到一些人正当或不正当地食有鱼出有车,人们心态
急剧失衡,既如此,“笑贫不笑娼”重又抬头,重又泛滥也就不足奇怪。君子重义轻
利、尊农贱商、不为五斗米折腰的传统道德在经济迅速成长的过程中受到损害,而新道
德的重建,还在遥远的黑暗隧道的另一端。

  并非所有的“三陪女”都天生淫荡,她们大致可分为三类;第一类来自农村,她们
受教育有限,年龄幼小,难以在城市中谋得较好的工作,灯红酒绿的城市和贫瘠的家乡
的反差很容易就让她们堕落到这一潭绝望的死水中去。而残酷的现实却是她们在出售了
全部的自尊之后,往往还蜷缩在城市肮脏狭小的窝棚或昏暗浑浊的地下室中自生自灭。
第二类是城镇中略受教育的女子,因种种原因而变得贪图物质享受而堕落,难以自拔;
第三类往往接受过高等教育并颇有姿色,心甘情愿地堕落到风尘中,成为笼养金丝鸟。

  越来越多的农村人口将从有限的土地中分离出来流入茫茫城市,越来越多的产业工
人也将因企业技术进步而分流下岗。潜在失业妇女人口数以逾亿,她们往何处去?在清
风吹不起涟漪的死水,也许就沦落为扔进死水中的破铜烂铁、剩菜残羹。

  “性产业”如死水微澜,是丑恶开垦出的黑洞,断不是美的所在。在世风日下之际
重建道德,为13亿人提供适当的教育和工作,是中国政府未来50年首要的、几乎不可能
完成但又必须完成的沉重历史使命。
 

转自:联合早报10-02