Prostitution in China


Dear Wang Jianshuo,

I am a frequent reader of, and occasional poster in your wonderful blog.

I’m writing to ask if you could start a topic on prostitution in China in your blog. I know that prostitution in China is theoretically illegal, but in practice, KTVs, bath houses, massage parlours, disguised barbor shops etc. are everywhere and everybody knows it.

Of I course I’m not talking about writing a Shanghai red light tourist guide. Instead, I’d be interested to learn more about the evolution and characteristics of this industry. Key questions might include:

  • What kind of people are the owners of the venues? How do they make sure that their venue doesn’t get closed down by the police (systematic bribery?)?
  • What kind of women (and men) enter this industry? For which reasons?
  • How much do sex workers earn (I’ve heard, the average monthly wage of prostitutes amounts to ~10,000 RMB; massage ladies earn up to 5,000 RMB per month)? What are their costs/sacrifices (lying to their family, permanent fear of getting jailed, loss of youth or up to 10 years of their life?)?
  • How is an approximate value of a prostitute determined? By her beauty? Who judges this? By the wealth of her frequent clients? Or by what else? Why do some really "ugly" prositutes demand high prices in expensive KTV venues, whereas other relatively more beautiful prostitutes in less extravagant venues demand a lower price? Can the latter try to get a job in a higher-profile venue? – What kind of people are the patrons?
  • Is it true that about 5 years ago, prostitutes used to earn significantly more than the average white-collar employee? How come that prices for sex services have gone down so sharply?

Of course, I know this is a sensitive and controversial topic, and I leave it totally up to you to decide whether to start such a topic. However, if you decide not to start it, could you provide me with some information or references on the internet for me do to some further research? Ideally in English, but I could also try to handle articles in Chinese :)

Thank you, pal!

Best regards
<name removed>

Good topic. I know it is controversal, but this blog is not a blog shy away of these topics, espeically when I feel the reader is genuninely offering attention to the less fortunately (or should I say so) people (sex workers). It is with sympathy when we dig into details.

The fact is, however, I really have no idea about the anwser of any of the questions, and I even cannot make a guess. So I want to direct this question to my other readers who may be journalist in this field in the last few years to give us some insight, or if you know a link, share it. Thanks.

42 thoughts on “Prostitution in China

  1. I happen have a report on this topic. It’s an study on prostitution industry in Jiading, a subburb of Shanghai, if you want a copy of that pls drop me a mail at

  2. Hi, We’re interested in what research you discover on this subject. I think it would make for an interesting feature or news article. Let us know if we can help!

  3. Prostition is a very old profession, and in China it’s been around for a verrrry long time.

    However, the sudden boom in prostitution over the last 10 years coincides well with the new “capitalistic” china. Many go into this profession because it’s “easy money”. They simply don’t have the resources to advance in their inland home provinces…so they head for the riches in the coastal cities.

    For every sex worker that strikes it rich, there are probably some that never get to make anything. Simply supply over demand, which answers your question of the sharp drop in the price of sex services. You no longer have to goto the exclusive sauna, when you can find it at the barber shop around the corner.

    The trend is disturbing, but it is really just a side-effect of the widening gap between the haves and the have-nots in china.

  4. Mrs. Kun Wang, ex-colleague and dog-fella of my ex-wife, is an extraordinary female journalist, who spent a long time living with prostitutes in rural China cities and had a wonderful report on this topic. this is her contact:

    I wanted to mate her dog with mine, but…

  5. Just follow a note: don’t just click the link above, you need to copy the whole line into your browser.

  6. Prostitution was introduced to China via the silkroad when the greeks needed some tea to add to the hemlock for Socrates. They offered democracy for our tea but we ever only interested in their women. After much debate they gave us Medusa which turned all the lions guards into stone. With great effort we managed to banish her to the island of Taiwan where she screwed a snake and gave birth to Ah Bian.

  7. Thx for all contributions so far!

    As for the value of prostitutes, recent hearsay indicates that beauty – as a mere necessary condition – is not the variable factor anymore. It is being gradually replaced by a new variable, namely (as I would call it) the “degree of education” as a sufficient condition. This also explains the recent inflow of educated young women to the supply side. Some of their patrons don’t even expect sex for their money; they pay for being accompanied/escorted by and an educated young lady. And as a matter of fact, those ladies are paid far more than what the average xiaojie earns. However, this doesn’t allow for the conclusion that all students can earn their living by embarking on such a career since beauty, as mentioned above, is still a basic prerequisite.

    The interesting thing about this shift is that the connotation of prostitution in contemprorary China thus starts to shift from sex service to escort service (not sanpei, which usually includes sex). Just my observation…

  8. I’m currently living in china, liao ning province and being a woman as you can imagine nobody discusses this with me. KTV’s are everywhere and so are bath houses. But what i want to know, how do you know which ones are “prostitution places”, or are they all like that. I have heard many stories about KTV and the girls. So as you can imagine i have not ever gone to one, but know many foreigners that do. Apparently these girls are cheap and are willing to do anything, including have there photo taken!!! Please explain to me, i don’t understand how this is possible, it seems most places where i live are brothels and it’s just accepted?

  9. LOL oncerest…your blog is so wrong. I really wonder where you got your figures from.

    Prostitutes from China, mainly young girls between the age of 17 and 25 on “student visa” make up 50-70% of the sex trade in Singapore. That is why when people think of chinese women from china, here in Singapore, they think of prostitutes!

    Well, not all women from china are like that but study mamas don’t make things any better working by working in “massage parlor” that provide “special chinese massage”. I know this girl from Shanghai who paid for her master degree program by selling her flesh. There are so many of them out there that the Singapore govt is having a hard time tracking them down….if you are above 18, maybe you can try exploring geylang to see for yourself.

    LOL.. time to grow up young boy.

    Ok, back to prostitution in China. Your blog doesn’t answer the topic.

  10. Asia,

    It’s really hard to tell which places are non-prostitution ones. As a rule of thumb, you can assume that 98% of all bath houses offer special service. As for KTV, I’m not sure, but I think the proportion should be lower.

    But what are you afraid of? Nobody is forced to accept prostitution services. Many people go to bath houses just to relax (maybe they get a foot massage but this is certainly not an issue). In bath houses, prostitutes won’t bother wasting their time on you if they understand you’re not interested in their service. And in KTV venues, you can always book a separate room for yourself and your friends, so no prostitute will disturb you.

  11. @ – @oncrest – I agree with you on this incorrect ‘perception’, and would like to add that the % of prostitutes of total population of Chinese nationals is very low in SG… I love living in SG, but this deep-seeded ‘perception’ in some SGpeans you describe is very, very true – and very, very wrong. It will take some time for the ‘old school’ Chinese national-haters to ween out of mainstream. I’m so glad you understand the issue so well…

    Let’s keep on the govt’s back to clean up geylang, and let’s keep the open discussion going to remove the incorrect perceptions of ‘old school’ SGpeans that all Chinese nationals are prostitutes. Interestingly, we got rid of similar incorrect perceptions in Melbourne many years ago (that most asian girls are prostitutes), by lobbying the local, state and federal govts to change advertising laws. At that time, some brothels were advertising services by ‘Asian only’ – and went further to define by country of origin – it was possible to call and book time with a SGpean (or Chineses or Japanese or Malaysian or Korean etc, etc) if that was one’s requirement… this practice is now illegal in Australia thank goodness – the world’s ‘oldest occupation’ attracts workers from every walk of life, every country and every culture – no one country or race is immune.

  12. Hi AussiePB,

    you totally got me confused. I think you misunderstood my point. I am very sure that the % of China prostitutes in Singapore is way above the midline. Anyway, from reading your other posts, I realised that you are a very strong (and maybe blind) china-lover so let it be. don’t really care about Chinese prostitutes in china, Singapore or Australia so long no minor is involved and everything is within the laws… If you seriously believe that the % of Chinese prostitute in Singapore is low, maybe you should try exploring geylang too. Chinese prostitutes are expensive, cost $50 more than filipinos and $100 more than thais on average….LOL just don’t let your wife find out

  13. Hi @oncrest… hehe – I think I’d get in to big trouble if I go and checkout Geylang nowadays – I think I understood your point, but didn’t make myself very clear – I have no doubt that the percentage of prostitutes in SG that are Chinese is high, what I was trying to say is that the percentage of the total Chinese national population in SG that are prostitutes is low – which is why the perception that all Chinese nationals in SG are prostitutes is wrong… it’s sort of like saying that because most suicide bombers are of islamic faith, therefore every moslom is a terrorist bomber, or because most kebab shops are owned by people from Turkey, that every person from Turkey owns a kebab shop… anyway, you get my drift – I’ve actually been confronted with the misconception that all Chinese nationals are prostitutes many times whilst living in SG – there is no way that the people with this view can be swayed otherwise, and I find it a little strange… Cheers.

    Sorry all for going way off topic here. Oh – and my ‘blind China lover’ reputation precedes me…. lol :D

  14. I have been totally by this woman after 2 years, I am at the freak out stage, I am 45 she is 32 we seemed to have connected. But my inner feelings was that she was a cold bith and playing and sometimes she was he best. I love her and I think she has one thing in mind and it is not love it’s $$$. I am ariting because I am not a spring chicken she got me good and I need to talk to one of you guys or girls I feel like a such a fool I hate myself. I think I got all caught up in the wow Asian grils loves the fat man am I alone


  15. 8-18 -2008 It just happened I after 2 years she treats me like shit 50% of the time and king the other 50% my heart is broken and I need some advise tell me I am not alone. I feel like the fool of fools she was a profession actor how could be so dame stupid , In pain

    Thanks for reading





  17. My husband was in China on business for 2 years and started playing sugar-daddy to a 19 year old gold-digger. She got $23,000 out of him by the time he left. She continues to email and text him frequently trying to get more money and demanding that he divorce me and marry her. he’s unable to end the affair completely although he hasn’t seen her for over 2 years. These girls are something else and will stop at nothing to get money from these so called “rich” foreigers. My 58 year old husband is the biggest fool that I know. The worst of it is that he’s just 1 of thousands of foreign businessmen working in China being targeted by these girls. Even now, he doesn’t appreciate how lucky he is I haven’t divorced him. Instead he drinks himself to death and grieves for the “love of his life.” How sad.

  18. I would love to hear from other women who’s husbands have fallen into the Asian gold-digger trap like mine did.

  19. Ann,

    I’ve lived in Shanghai for 6 years, and have heard of many “sad” stories of older men from foreign lands hooked up with younger Chinese women. A few reasons western men seem to be the targets of such tragedies are: 1) Many Chinese think the “foreginers” are wealthy. Perhaps they watched too many Hollywood-made movies. 2) Believe it or not! many young girls think it’s “trendy” to walk on the street arm-in-arm with a foreigner, and their friends will envy them. I can share with you more on what I’ve heard and seen here in Shanghai but I’m heading for U.S. today and have no time to do so. I’m sure there are websites with women whose husbands cheat on them when they go on business trips in China. It’s sickening to see how many “sugar daddy(or grand sugar daddy) with young chicks with age gap of 20-40 years apart” on Shanghai street. The guys think that’s love, but of course what the women want is their money. Just ask these “dirty men” if they would love women who are 20-40 years than them.

  20. I pity you Anne….I would divorce him and squeeze him dry. Sadly, the same story happened to me and my fiance and I decided that since he’s gonna be a sucker anyway, I ought to do myself a favor…and the rest is history.

    I have since found it really hard to respect women from China, particularly Shanghai.

  21. Anne, I gotta say this.

    He found a younger and more attractive woman that treated him better. He fell in love and it seems she did too.

    He spent 23,000 over two years taking care of her. How much money does he spend over two years taking care of you?

    How much respect do you give him? You called him the biggest idiot you know.

    It seems like his only mistake was coming back and not divorcing you.

    Honestly, WHY should he appreciate the fact that you didn’t divorce him? He obviously loves the girl and he doesn’t seem to have much interest in you, nor do you have any interest in him.

    Honestly, WHY do you feel the need to torture yourselves?

    Just let him have the “love of his life”. Why doesn’t he anyway? Have you threatened him?

    He’s never going to stop resenting you for what you did.

  22. Anne,

    You are not alone. My husband did the same thing and we have three school-age children, we had a great sex life and I am very small and petite like most Chinese women. He literally felt like he was a King. He has many addiction problems and being a sugar daddy was another addiction. He was a once faithful Christian man who could once count all sex partners on three fingers. He was in a fantsyland in China and out of control. He ended up losing his assignment as a result of his stupid choices…bringing girls into his room…getting drunk and passing out with them staying in the room for the night was a security risk for the type of work he did. All five star hotel rooms have cameras. Those were used against him. It was a horrble loss for the entire family. He dropped the ball at work and they did full security investigation into him. The childrens’ lives have been turned upside down as a result. We lost so much in China.

    I talked to many of the girls and they all tell me same thing: “You misunderstood.” “We are just friends.” I got their numbers when I confiscated his secret cell phones (sex phones)….I ended up with a total of three (3) sex phones by the time we left China and they were full of text messages from many girls from Harbin, Tianjin, Xian, and Chengdu. Yep, asking for money for vaious reasons. An example: “My momma fell ill, I need 15,000 RMB…it will all go to hosipital and I not see any of it. I repay you in future.” “I need money for surgery. 20,000 RMB. You are mine Mr. Smith. XOXOXO.”

    He wired transfered all our savings to China and gave it away… he gave his large expat salary away and now our debt has tripled since he didn’t pay off the debt while we were in China. It is a huge emotional and financial blow to the family. It was all so stupid.

  23. My x friend is a Norwegian male (parents were Morrison missionaries?)that grew up in Tiwian,& then (also USA)he has a boyfriend that teaches English in Chendau china & lives there. That boyfriend talks to & sees a a sex therapist,she is on his Facebook? JIM (JAMES BURKETT)The sex therapist is a woman called Jennyfriend (cover for prostiution? )& they meet up near San Diego Ca., the (James E in China)boyfriend is a photographer & never worked as a Chinese school teacher before & he’s single. you figure it out, as the Chinese kids are 4 to 11 yr old & play leap frog? He also has insourcing & out sourcing accts in his girlfriends name. My Norwegian X lover caught Herpes while staying with him on vacation?

  24. “I have since found it really hard to respect women from China, particularly Shanghai.”

    You find it difficult to respect women from China because you couldn’t satisfy your ex-fiance? You sound bitter and vindictive, which is ironic, considering the fault lies with yourself. If your relationship wasn’t deficient in some form, your ex-fiance wouldn’t have succumbed himself to such temptation. Look in the mirror and you’ll see the real “sucker”. Whilst your ex-fiance is probably walking arm-in-arm with a young, attractive, and vibrant Chinese doll, you’re sitting in front of your computer trying to win sympathy votes from random punters on the internet. Get on with your life or end it by putting a shotgun in your mouth.

  25. B.Mcnaughton,I work with James Burkett at ABC English School In Chengdu China. Building 6,flat 5 15th floor tower 2. You should meet my partner,as he could teach you some English manners! The fault is you! You have a discusting attitude! You are the bitter man who is not happy at home & you are vindictive! The blast should be in your mouth. You may get a dose of Herpes inside & around the air in your mouth that you are haven been blessed & given to breath…feel it circulating around your open hole!

  26. B.Mcnaughton,I work with James Burkett at ABC English School In Chengdu China. Building 6,flat 5 15th floor tower 2. You should meet my partner,as he could teach you some English manners! The fault is you! You have a discusting attitude! You are the bitter man who is not happy at home & you are vindictive! That should be in your mouth. You may get a dose of Herpes inside & around the air in your mouth that you are have been blessed & given to breath…feel it circulating around your open hole!

  27. Hi. The story is this, I have a friend who is prostitute here and she was told that going to china is a good bussines. we both are colombians, thats the other side of the world.

    They said that she can earn something like $ 10000 dollars a month. that is the truth?

    Im asking this because i think is a risky bussines and i would like to know some facts, to tell her.

    Sorry if somenone is ofended by this and feel bad, but she is my friend and i think that she doesnt need to go there.

    Thanks in advance.

  28. I vist Chengdu China a lot & stay with visit my long time friend Jim who teaches young Chinese children English in Chengdu & where there are a lot of young vunerable women ! I like to do group orgies in the Sacramento CA. area & I try to be discreet but I’m really now become out in the open! I don’t want to rescue any man or woman so I belong to Adult Friend Finder to hookup for my dates. I hang out in the San Francisco Bay area in the USA… EINAR E.

  29. To Einar alias Esten: Do you own a sail boat that you moor in S. Bay in San Francisco? Did you a manage property in Sacramento? I know you go to Chengdu to visit that very close friend of yours named James B. that lives there.James is dating a far younger Chinese girl that is there with him every day & you had Fun staying with “all” of them, but it did become a problem that you brought back to Sacramento with you! You are never going back to have personal romantic relations with them,I hope! James is not my favorite person as he tells tall stories to empress people and he owes money in the USA! He left his children far behind. James should never have been let in China to teach the tiny vunerable children the ABC English class with his kind of resume that he stretched. James uses the money that they pay him to travel to different countries to take pictures. James contacts a sex therapist named Jenny Friend near the marine base in Southern CA.Look at FACEBOOK. Why does he need her? Then he goes back to teache small children! What is on his mind when he reaches out to learn from a woman who sells sex near Camp Penalton. What is the matter with Chinese authorities?

  30. There should be a shake down in the USA & China of men using women. I believe in GOD and they will be damed! Men use women for sex & teach their sons that it is great! women have a hard time to find a decent man that does not have a STD as STD’s are worse in China. Unwanted children & abortions. Tax payers paying for the men’s SEXUAL relief that is SHORT lived & they are on to the next prey! Run those guys out to the FRONT LINE to fight the wars! Our GOOD men should not die for the thrills of the sex addicts! China wake up!

  31. I would agree that I have lots of sexual of fun in China & I can live there cheap. I’m cheap & I like sex.I can get away with it over here easier than in San Francisco. My family would check up on me if I lived back in CA.I would be followed there.I can be a very discreet person here in Chengdu & I can pretend to be a very good man. I would be highly thought of as a lover of strangers both male & female! I’d be called a people lover & not a predator of them! I can stay religious or Buddah & the Chinese would believe me as I represent the USA! Holy COW! I am so smart,just like a CON & I can convince the Chinese into believing Lies that I can come up with in Chengdu ! I will keep up will passing on the same un truths, as no one will ever check to deeply on my certificates as so many have the same names as me, or even that I am at present running from paying my bills that I owe in the USA. My best friend that I went to the Chinese American school with,use tohave common sense & he was healthy & never had a STD”s but caught one here he said? He believed in GOD before a long time ago but now after he stayed in Chengdu China he goes nuts with SEX & his morals! Women & boys sit at his feet & beg & want to come to the USA but he’s not a citizen in USA but we both were schooled & once lived on the military based island as 2 boys growing up & he wants to use the USA too , if he gets in trouble! We need to change all the laws to make it more difficult for the low life & mainly grown Pedophile & sex addict men to be thrown in the justice system , where they belong as some men have HERPES & are still on the group swinging dating sites & are passing STDS on to vunerable ignorant people all over. PREDATORS from the Usa that invade Chengdu to do their own law breaking rules. China must find & fine all the USA men who use the women & it would save babies & a whole lot of abortions in Chengdu from arising… Cherry

  32. Einar A,I live in Novato Ca.I am with my best friend Jim who lives in china. We have a blast there dating,drinking,smoking & using Cherry for a quickie! I love visiting there. I can throw my morals out completely!

  33. Jim E. Burkett has a reputation of fondling young students that he teaches English to in Chengdu China and he invites his men friends to have sex with them & they then catch a sexual disease. This is on going at present time.Posted to let the Chinese students to be aware.

  34. There is a male that could be a sexual predator of children.He left behind his obligations with owing money in the USA and moved from CA. and is right now living and teaching in Chengdu.Jim B. has never been qualified to teach in the USA. Einar is Jame’s close friend that lives near San Francisco CA.and Einar does transfer some of JIM’S mail in the USA so authorities can’t track JIM!.Jame’s said :that he prefers China’s communism.Jim’s father was a pilot in the USA military.

  35. I can’t prove it about James E burkett to report him to the the authorities but authorities in Chengdu can google his name & it will tell everything they need to know as he posted it himself. He shows pictures on Smug Mugs & also uses his real name.

  36. Hey guys, come around and have plenty of naughty excitement with us in our clean, highly discreet place close to Baker st station in the capital. We provide the majority of professional services for your full satisfaction. Shower facilities as well as refreshments always are available. Join us right now, you know you want to.

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