Inside Dongguan, China's Sin City - By Tom Phillips, Dongguan(01 May 2013)

There are no signs outside this backstreet brothel at the heart of China's 'Sin City', just a shadowy alleyway, two metal gates and a pimp named Crow.

Inside, on the five-storey villa's ground floor, six prostitutes in fishnet tights and bright red lipstick are slumped onto a sofa, munching on noodles under the pink and blue glow of neon lights.

"The police won't trouble you," said the pimp, who was wearing a bright yellow Sweden football shirt and asked for 300 yuan (£32) for a night's entertainment.

This is Dongguan, a sprawling factory boomtown in the Pearl River Delta that boasts a population of around seven million people and a reputation as the Chinese capital of sex. For a price here, anything goes.

Some 10 per cent of Dongguan's population is said to be employed by the world's oldest profession. Tom Phillips reports from China's Sin City

Estimates about the scale and reach of Dongguan's underground sex trade almost beggar belief.

Between 500,000 and 800,000 people – some 10 per cent of Dongguan's migrant population – are in some way employed in the world's oldest profession, according to Hong Kong's South China Morning Post.

A staggering 300,000 sex workers – known locally as "technicians" – are thought to ply their trade in thousands of side-street massage parlours, exclusive hotels, spas and neon-lit karaoke bars.

"Many wives feel anxious whenever their husbands take business trips to Dongguan," the city's former party chief, Liu Zhigeng, admitted in 2009. "It's disgraceful."

Intent on shedding the city's image as China's capital of sleaze, authorities are now going on the offensive.

A slick new propaganda campaign seeks to recast this grimy manufacturing hub city as a picturesque cradle of culture and diversity.

"Upon coming to Dongguan, the first thing I notice is that the local people's lives are deeply rooted in traditional culture," gushes the voice-over for one PR film, reportedly produced by the Discovery Channel and aired across China. "The city has an inherent charm, warmth and an amalgamation of cultures. Everyday, the city manages to excite."

Security forces are also chipping in, trying to push prostitution off Dongguan's streets with a "sweeping yellow" crackdown on a trade that was outlawed in China following the 1949 Communist takeover.

Last month, the 'New Generation' sex market on Dongguan's outskirts became the latest red-light district to receive a visit from the local constabulary.

The outdoor market – a tatty labyrinth of concrete car garages that once served as mini-brothels – now lies abandoned. Dozens of shacks have been shuttered and Public Security Bureau seals adorn the metal doors where prostitutes once loitered.

"They closed the market last night," complained one local 'madam', a woman in her thirties wearing a red tracksuit top. "Normally, we could find you two girls for 150 yuan (£16)." Dongguan's sex trade may now be less visible than before but many thousands of sex workers still operate inside underground venues that are an open secret to those in the know.

On the second-floor of one of Dongguan's ubiquitous KTV karaoke bars, two elegantly dressed hostesses paraded dozens of girls before their visitors.

At least one appeared to be under-18.

For 300 yuan, the girls were available for a night of drunken karaoke, fuelled with beer, whiskey and Turkish cigarettes. For 1,200 yuan, guests could retreat to their hotel rooms with the girls.

"I'm married and have a 22-month-old son," said a 28-year-old KTV girl who was starting her third day at the club and gave her name as Luo. "My husband doesn't know I work here, nor do my parents." Luo said her route into prostitution had begun in the casinos of Macau where she racked up debts of nearly £80,000.

"I have no other option. I will leave this place after I earn 20,000 or 30,000 yuan and I'll probably return to the casino to try and win it back." A girl from Jiangxi province who gave her name as Tong said a friend had tricked her into swapping a job at a nearby shoe-factory for the KTV bar.

"I had no idea what business was going on here until I came," said Tong, who claimed she was 19 but appeared no older than 15 or 16.

Similar stories could be heard across town, in a roadside massage parlour, strategically located opposite a suburban zip factory. There, three girls were perched on a sofa beneath three fake pink roses that had been taped to the wall. A small television in the corner beamed CCTV images down from the second floor where "special massages" were administered.

Ling Ling, who said she was "20-ish", came to Dongguan from a village in Guizhou, China's poorest province, to work at a toy factory.

Soon, however, she decided she could make a better living out of the massage parlour. "I have no choice. I have to support my family," she said.

Another sex worker, who gave her name as Juan, said she had been forced into prostitution after her shoe factory boss eloped with the workers' wages.

"I prefer working in a shoe factory," she said. "At least there I can earn a living with my hands. Here, I have to do it with my body." Local newspapers have celebrated attempts to give Dongguan a much-needed facelift. One micro-blogger, quoted by the *Yangcheng Evening News, said the campaign was *"a slap in the face to those who bad-mouth Dongguan." But asked about their city's campaign to eradicate prostitution, the massage parlour "technicians" shrugged.

"I heard there have been crackdowns recently," said Ling Ling. "But the police haven't bothered us."

走进中国罪恶之城 - 东莞 - By 译言网小侃

      这家位于中国东莞中心位置厚街镇上的妓院,外表没有任何的标志,一条阴暗潮湿的巷子,尽头是两扇铁门,一个名叫克朗的鸡头在这里拉客。

      走进里面,在这栋农民房的五楼,六名身着渔网露背衫,浓妆艳抹的妓女窝在沙发上,浸润在五彩绚丽的霓虹灯的灯光里,吃着面条。

      “这儿不会有警察来找麻烦的,”一晚上的消费是300元人民币(32英镑),穿着一身瑞典球队队服的鸡头说。

       这就是东莞,一个在珠三角地区拥有约700万人口,工厂林立的新兴都市,这里也以中国的性都而著称。在这里,只要肯出钱,什么都能做。

      东莞的地下性交易范围之庞大,是无法用言语来形容的。

      根据香港华南邮电早报的报道,东莞有大约50至80万的外来人口在这里从事卖淫活动,这个数量约占整个东莞外来人口的10%。

     有大约30万的性工作者----当地称之为“技师”---选择在多如牛毛的街边按摩房,钟点房,SPA会所,以及KTV包房里进行交易。

     “许多妇女都很担心他们的丈夫去东莞出差,”东莞市前市委书记刘志庚在2009年承认,“这很丢脸。”

      为了能够摘掉中国堕落之城这张标签,当地政府已经着手进行正面宣传攻势。

      一系列的宣传活动旨在重新塑造这座满是污垢的工业中心城市文化多样性的美丽之躯。

      “每次来到东莞,都能让我感觉到,传统早已融入人们的生活”这是当地政府制作的对外宣传片中,画外音的描述。“这座城市有种天生的魅力,友情的温暖,多文化的融合,每天,这座城市都绽放新的光彩。”

      警署等部门也在东莞街头开展地毯式的“扫黄”行动,力图彻底清除这一卖淫嫖娼违法行为。

      东莞周边新一代的性交易市场成为了新的红灯区,上个月,这里也遭到了当地警察的搜查。

      户外交易场所-----一个破落的迷宫般的混凝土车库,曾经的迷你妓院-----现在也已经荒废凋敝了。大量的这种曾经流行一时的卖淫场所,现在都已经被公安部门安装了铁门,贴上了封条。

      “昨晚,这里的卖淫场所被查封了,”当地的一个穿着红色运动上衣的“妈咪”抱怨到。“往常,你只要花150元人民币(16英镑),我们就可以给你提供两个小妹的双飞服务。”东莞的色情交易现在看起来似乎比以前少了很多,但是许多的性工作者其实都没有离开东莞,而是由地上交易转到了一些地下场所进行交易,这些地方,都是靠熟人介绍嫖客过来。

      在东莞的一个KTV二楼的包房里,两个KTV包房公主找来了十几个三陪女,供包房里的客人挑选。

      这些三陪女中,至少有一个年龄看起来不到18岁。

      花300元人民币,这些三陪女可以陪你整晚在包房里喝酒、抽土耳其雪茄。花1200元人民币,客人就可以把三陪女带回自己的宾馆房间。

      “我已经结婚了,有一个22个月大的儿子,”这位刚刚在这家KTV工作三天的28岁罗姓女子称。“我的父母和我的丈夫都不知道我在这儿工作。”罗姓女子称,她在澳门赌场欠下大约80000英镑的赌债,从那时起她就开始卖淫了。

       “我没有别的办法。等我赚到20000到30000块钱的时候,我就离开这里,不干这一行了,我可能会再去澳门,把输的钱都赢回来。”一个来自江西的姓同的三陪女说,她是被一个朋友骗来这里卖淫的,以前她是在附近的一家鞋厂打工。

      “我来到这里后,才知道这里是卖淫的,”姓同的女子说,她自称19岁,但看起来她的实际年龄也就是十五六岁。

      类似的故事还有很多。在城郊一个拉链厂对面的路边按摩房里,三个女孩倚在沙发里,沙发上面的墙上还有三朵用胶带粘贴着的假玫瑰花。一台小电视放在墙角的位置,电视上正播放中央电视台的内容,在这间按摩房的二楼,正在进行着“特色按摩”的交易。

      玲玲,一个自称20来岁的小丫头,从贵州老家来到东莞,本来是去玩具厂打工的。

      但是,不久以后,她决定去按摩房赚钱来换取更好的生活。“我没有别的办法,我得养活我的家里人”她说。

      另一个自称姓隽的女孩说,她原来打工的鞋厂老板卷款跑路后,包括她在内的工人都拿不到工资,被逼无奈之下,她才走上了卖淫这条道路。

      “我宁愿选择在鞋厂打工”她说。“至少在那里,我可以靠自己的双手赚钱养活自己。在这儿,我只能靠出卖自己的肉体来赚钱。”当地一家报纸,大篇幅歌颂东莞,试图给东莞一张崭新的面孔。网上的一个微博,引用羊城晚报的话说,这项扫黄行动就像“一记耳光,狠狠地抽在那些诽谤东莞的人的脸上。”但是,要让这座城市的扫黄行动彻底根除卖淫这颗毒瘤,按摩房里的“技师们”都很不屑地耸了耸肩。

      “我也听说最近的扫黄行动了,”玲玲说,“但是,警察还没有来过这里找我们的麻烦”。