By Sam Beatson.

According to the statistics from one sex industry/vice forum online, China could be emerging the new sex tourism destination for the whole of Asia. With almost 300,000 global members and more than 1,000,000 individual posts the site has potential for a mixed methods research project for those inclined.

There are many theories and implications both in terms of determinants and consequences of a rising China sex trade. Last year a presentation by Dr Jackie Sheehan informed the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham that China has recently slipped a rating in terms of being on top of the sex industry and trafficking.

Economic theory suggests that divorce rates leads to higher use of sex workers and an increase in sex industry activity, along with the potential for exploitation rising from widening income disparity. Theories which identify desires for sex industry participation by females find, for example, that females can be motivated by the sense of attainment of a much desired ‘fame’ or a ‘star-like’ status which could be provided by way of sex industry environments and interactions with wealthy clientele.

Taking the number of forum posts to give a measure of the activity of the members and gauge the interest in sex industry participation from the client/user side several datasets can be easily created. The ‘post number’ and ‘post date’ is given for every post in each forum for various cities and locations. Chosen on hearsay, data for the forums on the following cities are presented below: Dongguan (China), Pattaya (Thailand), Rio (Brazil), and Angeles City (the Philippines). Y axis presents number of posts in the year.


As can be seen, in 2009, there was the least posting activity in the Dongguan forum. Thailand’s Pattaya was the vice capital of the four cities sampled in both 2009 and 2010. However, two trends reversed in the year 2011. Interest in Angeles City, The Philippines declined slightly and Pattaya declined more sharply. At the same time, Dongguan continued in a steady uptrend and Rio also accelerated. As can be seen in the graph, the blue line crosses the black and red lines, making China the sex/vice capital of Asia for the period 2011, overtaking both Pattaya and Angeles City.

Further quantitative and thematic analysis of the sex industry in China could be useful to policymakers in governmental, law enforcement and health policy fields. In China, it appears that the interest in the sex industry as focused in Dongguan City, Guangdong is increasing, so much so that it is generating more buzz than Thailand’s infamous Pattaya City. China is not the sex industry capital of the world though, Rio being a case in point.

NB. This entry inspired by a dear friend and associate, Orawan Apichayakul to whom I am grateful for support and encouragement in my own (unrelated) research. Her PhD thesis looked at Thai ‘camwomen’ using ‘Camfrog’ software programme for material purposes.

Sam Beatson is a PhD candidate in the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies

Opinions expressed in the CPI blog do not represent the views of the China Policy Institute or the School of Contemporary Chinese Studies at the University of Nottingham. They are the personal views of the bloggers/authors.

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