China’s war on all things vice has shifted into a higher gear following a new campaign aimed at stamping out gambling and prostitution.
Late last month, China’s Ministry of Public Security announced it was stepping up its monitoring of land-based entertainment venues – clubs, bath houses, massage parlors and internet cafés – for signs that their list of entertainment options included gambling and/or sex for sale.
The Ministry said its action was aimed at anyone “organizing, forcing, alluring, harboring and introducing women for prostitution as well as groups operating and providing an ‘umbrella’ for gambling activities.” The Ministry declined to specify when this new campaign had started or how long it would last.
The Ministry also warned police officers who were in cahoots with vice merchants not to tip off their colleagues regarding the timing and location of raids, saying anyone who was found to be associating with criminals and/or partaking of their illicit products would be dismissed on the spot and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
Last week, authorities in Guangdong province announced the launch of a crackdown on the online promotion of prostitution and gambling services. The 100-day campaign, dubbed Net Oriole, involves greater surveillance of online social media channels such as WeChat, QQ chat rooms, text messages and other instant messaging services.
Guangdong police also plan to expand their cooperation with banks, telecom firms and other government departments to make it even more difficult for vice merchants to fly under the radar. Net Oriole’s timeframe will ensure it covers the busy Lunar New Year holiday, the peak period for online prostitution and gambling operations in the province.
Guangdong authorities have instructed police branches in every city to set up special online task forces to both launch new investigations and expand existing ones. Through November, Guangdong authorities had detained nearly 120k suspects suspected of over 53k cases of prostitution and gambling offenses.
Net Oriole is but the latest in a series of campaigns launched this year in Beijing’s ongoing war against corruption. This summer saw the launch of a six-month program to ‘clean the internet’ of illicit activity, the ‘Chain Break’ program targeting credit agents for online sports betting companies and a tightening of the noose around the necks of underground bankers.