China TV Report on Prostitution Prompts Police Crackdown

Meanwhile, online, people have accused state broadcaster CCTV of exploiting the sex workers.

A report on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV has prompted a major police crackdown on prostitution in the southern city of Dongguan, with more than 6,000 police officers arresting 67 people.

The raid shuttered 12 places suspected of serving as brothels and led to the suspension of two local police chiefs in the Pearl River Delta city.

However, online many people have accused CCTV of exploiting the sex workers by using titillating images and posted messages of support for the women and solidarity with the southern hub.

"Come on Dongguan," a commentator named Vito wrote on the microblogging service Sina Weibo: "When disaster struck, help came from all sides. Please don’t give up and focus on the reconstruction and recover the order of living. Don’t cry, Dongguan."

The half-hour report on Sunday showed prostitution going on openly, with women in miniskirts parading on a stage and a managers of clubs offering services.

Another Sina Weibo user, Guo jingming youhua shuo, wrote: "These days, if you see any girls returning from Dongguan, please give them more care and love. Please tolerate them and help them. It is not easy for them to make money in Dongguan. They gave up their dignity but they didn’t sell their soul. Caring for them starts with you."

In an online vote on the Tencent news portal, 63 percent of roughly 200,000 voters said they were opposed to the CCTV report.

Sina Weibo user Toudai xiaohua and tuzhunan wrote: "CCTV broadcasted half an hour about prostitution in Dongguan. However, the problem is the exposéwas approved by the government, why did they still sacrifice so many poor people? If it was easy to live, who would like to be a prostitute?"

Sina Weibo user Yangguang gaoyang said CCTV was "so merciless. There is love in the world. Please hold on Dongguan and prepare to rebuild after the disaster. Tonight we are all men from Dongguan."

Dongguan is a city in the industrial belt of southern China, just across the border from Hong Kong, and it is home to thousands of saunas and massage parlors.

Prostitution was outlawed after the Communist revolution in 1949, but it has made a comeback as the economy opens up, and by some estimates, there are four to five million prostitutes in China. Dongguan is believed to have nearly half a million sex workers.