Without doubt, China today is the world’s biggest supplier of manufactured consumer goods. From shoes, to toys, to fake Rolex watches, you name it, China manufactures it. Wal-Mart, America’s biggest retail giant, has more than half of its inventory comprised of China-produced goods. Like it or not, this ubiquity of ‘Made-in-China’ products is here to stay.
Consumer goods aside, China is quickly gaining prominence in another, totally unrelated sector. This past decade has witnessed the proliferation of Chinese girls within the vice industries of major cities all around the world. This has had the effect of drastically changing the demographics of the flesh trade in these cities,
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the Southeast Asian city-state of Singapore. In the ‘good old days’, the commercial sex industry in Singapore was well-contained and neatly confined to the few government-demarcated red light districts around the country. Sex workers hailing from Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore, were given official approval by the Government to ply their trade, subject to stringent regulations and frequent health checks. Then came the advent of the ‘Chinese Sex Revolution’, which started when China began to open up to the world. Women from China started arriving in Singapore in droves. Ostensibly, they came for holidays, and were accordingly issued social visit passes of up to 6 months validity.
Then came the shocker. These ‘tourists’ started soliciting their sexual services in public, particularly in places frequented by older male Singaporean retirees. These lonely men were easy prey for the doe-eyed, nubile Chinese temptresses. Soon, many Singaporean men found themselves parted with their hard-earned retirement savings. It was only then that the Singapore Government was rudely awakened to the fact that these ‘supposed tourists’ were in fact, prostitutes out to make a quick buck in Singapore. The clampdown then started with the immigration department tightening checks for incoming China females. Social visit passes for first-time China visitors were drastically reduced from 6 months to 1 month or even a few weeks. But, like everywhere else in the world, the Chinese were ingenious at finding ways to beat the system. They started to apply for study visas instead, enrolling themselves in small Singaporean private schools. This enabled them to have an extended stay in Singapore, for up to 2-3 years at a stretch. Of course, once in Singapore, these Chinese nationals went back to doing what they knew best, soliciting.
The result? The turning of the tide within the Singapore Sex Industry. Chinese sex workers were everywhere, outnumbering the ‘legal prostitutes’ by more than 3 to 1. The traditional red-light districts in Singapore were swamped with Chinese prostitutes, many of them charging lower prices than the legal sex workers. Needless to say, business in the legalized brothels suffered greatly. As a result, the anti-vice police stepped up the regularity of their checks in a bid to nab these illegal Chinese prostitutes and stem their influx into the industry. But once again, the Chinese had a solution to this. They paid some local guys to act as lookouts in and around the prostitution areas. Through doing this, they were able to get notification of an impending anti-vice raid long before the patrol cars were even in the vicinity. As such, they had ample time to take evasive action by scuttling into nearby hotels or cafes to hide, and wait till the coast was clear.
This current situation applies not only to Singapore, but to almost every other city in the world. The amazing resilience of the Chinese sex workers has made them very difficult to eradicate. Their influx into society has ensured that the social paradigm in the cities in which they operate has been irreversibly altered. Perhaps in time to come, the Chinese sex worker will be universally accepted as a cultural import, whose services are readily available in Wal-Mart as well.