Sexual Cultures in East Asia: The Social Construction of Sexuality and Sexual Risk in a Time of AIDS

By Evelyne Micollier | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2

THREE 'RED LIGHT DISTRICTS' IN CHINA

PAN SUIMING

Translated by Liu Zhenghong

Nowadays, the definition of a red light district in China is as follows: many prostitutes (not individuals) gathered together within one and the same location. In this demarcated territory, the sex industry is distinctively present on a particular scale and it occupies a primary position. The geographical border of this district should be relatively obvious enough for it to be readily distinguishable from the surrounding area. The sex industry of this area should be widely acknowledged and should confine its operations within the boundaries of the district.

At present, the sex industry operates in almost every city in China, but few locations can be truly rated a red light district. In this paper, I will describe three types of red light district. The first one is located in Town A in the economically highly developed area around the Zhujiang Delta. I classify this delta area as 'Lately Developed and Extroversive, ' having recently taken flight because of the introduction of foreign investment. It principally services the people of Hong Kong and Taiwan. The second is Town B, an economic and technological development zone close to an industrial city in the hinterland of Guangxi Province. Its primary function is to provide services for passing drivers and businessmen as well as the nearby urban population, covering a need which appeared with the development of transportation and the establishment of the economic development zone. In view of this I call it 'Roadside By-growth.' The third is Town C lying in a booming gold-mining area on the borders of Hunan and Guizhou Provinces. The emergence of this red light district, which at present serves only for local residents, is entirely based on the opening up of the gold deposits. Therefore it should be categorized as 'local haphazard.'

There were three principal fieldwork methods which I employed in my observations in these red light districts: monitoring at a set location at a set time; making door-by-door visits; and participant observation which required remaining in some of the places for a time, interviewing the owners of recreation centres about their business operations, chatting with the female sex workers and the 'procuresses' as if they had nothing to do with

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