I love Guangzhou, really….But, I don’t like travelling near the expat’ district. It is rife with professional beggars, fake watch hawkers, DVD pirates, and young boys throwing fist-fulls of massage parlor adverts into your cab window. I did happen to have to cross a pedestrian bridge–I should have braved the traffic instead–near this combat zone the other day. Now, I have been studying Hapkido for a couple of decades, but this “lady” applied a grip my former teachers and the trainers for the WWF should try to research. I still have bruises (On my WRIST!) and they are deeply enough embedded that CSI could probably take her prints off them… I am told that there is a crackdown underway in Guangzhou similar to one recently staged in Shenzhen. Instead of being able to watch from the couch on America’s COPS you could have hopped a cab and seen 100 prostitutes and some of their male patrons being marched down a main-street in yellow raincoats. Yellow is the common prefix here for these kind of businesses and in slang they are referred to as “chickens” (men are “ducks”) so I wonder….Then their names, dates and places of birth were made public following the announcement of their punishment which was 15 days in stir. Both American TV spectacles and public trials are modern Scarlet Letters. And US style digital branding feels every bit as draconian as this Chinese long march. It will be interesting to see whether or not this has an impact or if the shops spring back just as quickly as do the fake products stores…. Chinese Chicken According to China Daily: “A lawyer from a Shanghai law firm slammed the Shenzhen police’s controversial move, saying that it will result in vicious denunciations of China by overseas media and it is illegal, reported xmnext.com on December 5, citing a public letter obtained by the website. The Chinese government faces international criticism over its human rights infringements despite the country’s intensified efforts to solve the issue. According to the Law of Punishment in Public Order and Security Administration ratified on August 28 last year, police should respect and protect Chinese nationals’ human rights….” The lawyers went on to complain that the march, where the litigants wore surgical masks and yellow raincoats was harmful to their self esteem. Uh, Self esteem? I need to ask the China Law Blog if the defense guys really believe that or it is just something to brighten up court proceedings. I don’t think anyone will be getting Post Traumatic Stress Disorder counseling for the shame of being marched down the avenue like a duck. Their mental and physical health deteriorated years ago from constant abuse and degradation. According to China Rises, “… the party-linked All-China Women’s Federation filed a formal protest with the Ministry of Public Security last Friday, asserting that the vice parade was ‘an insult to all women in China.'” But, nobody, present company included, seems to feel sorry for the guys who got caught with their pants down. The fairest part of it, for me, was that they locked up the payers as well as the payees. Guangzhou will probably not see a long march in any of their districts anytime soon because there is talk of legal criminal action against the police involved as it violated Chinese law about the handling of defendants. They need to be American police to get a TV show and a cut of buff cop calendar proceeds, but I digress…. As a soldier and military dependent for many years I saw prostitution everywhere there were men in larger numbers than women. The world’s oldest profession is not going to vanish anytime soon. But, I am hoping, for the sake of the real esteem and safety issues involved for the women, and to better ensure public health, that the authorities get a grip (stronger than our female Stallone above) on the issue. The theft and injury stories regarding prostitutes in Guangzhou have now evolved in their telling and have risen to the level of urban myth. I know of 8-10 versions of the same story involving a foreigner robbed of all money and documents during the Canton Trade Fair. It allegedly involves complicity on the part of the parade organizers. I am sure some of them, albeit embellished are true. But, having to run the gauntlet of “yellow” businesses on street corners and overpasses cannot negatively impact China’s image anymore than a parade. And I am not thrilled that whenever I stay at a hotel in Macau, Hong Kong, Hainan or elsewhere I have to take my phone off the hook to keep hookers from calling. I am hoping they clean things up—within the boundaries of the law.

By Lonnie B Hodge @ OMBW

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