Guangzhou Karaoke Bars Have Slow Week in Vice Purge

China News Digest, 7 October 2001

[CND, 10/07/01] Facing a vice sweep by police, karaokes in Guangzhou, a mainland city only two hours driving from Hongkong, and thousands of young women who are hired to entertain clients stumbled, even though department stores are busy and planes, trains and hotels are booked solid in the week of celebrating 52 years of communist rule, the South China Morning Post reported on Saturday.

Guangzhou police have been raiding karaoke bars almost nightly since the Ministry of Public Security launched on September 17 a three-month campaign to rectify entertainment industry.

As the city prepares to host the Ninth National Games on November 11, Guangzhou police had closed more than 8,000 of estimated 20,000 karaoke bars in the city.

Their employees, of course, feel the impact.

It's been a bad week and I really need to make some money tonight, said a young woman in one karaoke bar.

The 20-year-old woman, surnamed Wang, is a native of northeast China who came to Guangzhou earlier this year to work in a shoe factory.

Soon after, she quitted the job to work as a sanpei xiaojie, meaning three-accompaniments Miss at a karaoke bar where she can earn as much money in a night as she did in a month at the factory.

Usually, sanpei xiaojies are brought to a karaoke bar by an older woman, a mami who often handles as many as 30 women. A mami queues up her girls in front of patrons who are encouraged to choose one to sit with.

The three accompaniments refer to drinking, chatting and signing for which the girls are paid 300 yuan, of which 50 yuan goes to the mami. In a lucky night, a girl can make as much as US$100.

I won't go home with clients, even though my mami really doesn't like girls who won't, Wang said.

In Guangzhou, the mami gets 10 to 15 per cent of the 1,000 yuan typically charged by the girl for sleeping a client outside the bar. Such prostitution is what the police targets in the crackdown.

The Southern Metropolis News last week sponsored an expose on Guangzhou karaoke that are disregarding the rectification campaign. The police subsequently raided the establishments with the paper's reporters in tow.

When bar owners got wind of what we were up to they called to beg for mercy and asked us not to expose their illegal activities. But we sternly refused, the newspaper said. (Zhou Haosheng)