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February 22, 2014
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China’s vice crackdown tackles entrenched industry

February 22, 2014

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BEIJING: China’s booming sex industry may finally be entering a winter after decades of robust growth, as Beijing wages a harsher-than-usual clampdown on vice.
Suppressed during the Mao years, prostitution flourished after China’s economic opening in the 1980s while local governments eager for new business looked the other way and half-hearted police crackdowns barely dented the illicit industry. But this crackdown seems to be different.
A city police chief has been sacked, and four party chiefs issued open apologies for failing to rein in prostitution on their watch. The national Public Security Ministry was put in command of the operation.
Perhaps caught off-guard by an outpouring of public sympathy for the young women caught up in raids and seen handcuffed on state TV, a party-run newspaper ran four editorials in a row to condemn any sympathy toward the illegal trade.
Observers see this as the latest effort by Chinese President Xi Jinping to re-establish the legitimacy and dominance of the Communist Party in the lives of the average Chinese by readjusting the country’s moral compass.” It could be a return to the puritanical state of the Mao era,” said Beijing-based historian and political analyst Zhang Lifan. “Xi may want to rebuild the social order in a way that is more culturally conservative.”
Ai Xiaoming, a professor at Sun Yat-sen University in southern China, said that the campaign was consistent with Xi´s anti-graft crusade.” This is a moral purge, as the party leadership wants to impose controls on desire in the ideological realm,” he said.
Many observers, including Zhang, also have speculated that the sweep may target the power base of rivals of the top leadership, while cleaning up a police system notorious for corruption.” We all know the sex trade cannot exist without tacit approval from the police,” Ai said.

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