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Xinhua Insight: Dongguan, more than just "Sex City"

English.news.cn   2014-02-13 23:41:50

GUANGZHOU, Feb. 13 (Xinhua) -- When a recent sex trade crackdown brought the Chinese city of Dongguan under spotlight, netizens launched another online campaign featuring the city's glories.

On microblogs and online forums, people have uploaded and forwarded photos on Dongguan, "The Factory of the World," in the booming southern province of Guangdong, plotting its history from a fishing village to a manufacturing and logistics behemoth.

"Dongguan You May Not Know" called for local residents to be more proud of their city, and to tell the world about it.

"We produced one fifth of the world's digital products; we destroyed the country's opium here; we topped the Chinese Basketball Association league eight times; we attracted 10 million migrants..." said captions of the photos uploaded when the city was mocked as China's "Sex Capital" after prostitution busts and media exposure on Sunday.

By Wednesday, a total of 920 suspects had been apprehended and police had swooped on more than 18,000 entertainment venues in Guangdong, including karaoke bars, saunas, and massage parlors.

FACTORY OF WORLD

About 140 km away from Hong Kong, Dongguan used to be a small fishing village. In 1839, Lin Zexu, an official of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912), burned 1,000 tonnes of opium confiscated from foreign dealers at Humen Township in Dongguan. The move triggered the First Opium War between China and Britain from 1840 to 1842, which resulted in Hong Kong's colonization for a century.

In the late 1970s, with opening up and reform, Dongguan, as Hong Kong's neighbor, was among the leaders in foreign trades.

More than three decades later and the gross domestic product of the city last year exceeded 500 billion yuan (82.5 billion U.S. dollars). That's a trade volume of over 150 billion U.S. dollars.

According to Yao Kang, the city's deputy Party chief, one tenth of the world's sneakers are produced in Dongguan, about 20 percent of the world wears Dongguan sweaters, and 30 percent of the world's children are playing with Dongguan toys. World-famous brands, such as Nokia and Samsung, have plants in the city.

The city is home to basketball team Guangdong Hongyuan, eight-time CBA champions. NBA player Yi Jianlian once played for them.

The 2015 mixed team world badminton championships, the Sudirman Cup, will be hosted there.

ONGOING TRANSFORMATION

Booming manufacturing attracted millions from all over China. According to the city government, permanent residents reached 8.3 million in 2012, but only 1.87 million of them are locals with household registrations. The population density exceeded 3,300 per square kilometer, triple that of Beijing.

Since the world economic downturn in 2008 and with increasing labor costs, the "factory of world" has been forced to change its growth pattern.

The Dongguan Light Array Display Products Co. Ltd., a company which used to manufacture household appliances for foreign brands, have turned to hi-tech products such as high-end camera modules and electro-optic application products.

Shu Weiping, general manager of the company, said the company changed their target from foreign to domestic consumption with large spending on technical research and development. Sales revenue have surged from less than 10 million yuan to 40 million, and the number of employees decreased from 7,000 to less than 1,000.P Apart from manufacturing, services also face transformation, especially with the government attitude revealed through sex trade crackdown.

The number of five-star hotels in Dongguan City ranks third after Beijing and Shanghai, and there are more than 1,000 starred hotels in the city, many of which are involved with underground prostitution.

Rumors say the crackdown will affect 200,000 jobs, and even taxi drivers will lose both prostitutes and their clients as passengers. However, experts say that is groundless assumption.

"Under Chinese political and legal system, which bans prostitution, sex services will never become a real industry for any city, including Dongguan," said Lin Jiang, head of the Public Finance and Taxation Department of Lingnan College of Sun Yat-sen University.

A hotel manager who preferred not to be named told Xinhua the crackdown on prostitution is a sign for transformation of the service sector.

"Investment will flow to other, better sectors since the authorities will no longer turn a blind eye to prostitution," he said.

(To stay up to date with the latest China news, follow XHNews on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/XHNews and Xinhua News Agency on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/XinhuaNewsAgency.)

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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