China: Renting a Xiaojie

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BEIJING - A “xiaojie” is a little sister. It means one thing during the day, and another at night. There isn’t a local motel chain, conference venue, or massage parlor in Beijing or Shanghai that doesn’t offer some fine selection of youthful whores and seasoned hookers. [And if no such service exists at your place , ask a taxi driver to the next “yellow” light district.]

The price for Chinese sex workers in Beijing or Shanghai: Ranging from RMB 300 ($45) for street hookers or bar pick-ups (obviously, you’ll need to drive back to your hotel room), around RMB 400 ($60) for the hostess at your seedy back-alley brothel, to RMB 800-1000 ($120-150) for hotel maids, and RMB 1000 ($180) and upwards for really gorgeous company.

Obviously, the price is negotiable, and highly individual. Half all the prices, if in the countryside. When contacted by phone via those shoddy ‘calling cards’ distributed in motels and in the streets, a pimp will pick up the call and fix the fee. Sometimes, he will even bring her over to the hotel, if she is his favorite.

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The pretty girls on the calling cards are not the rentals, of course, except, perhaps, for more discreet escort services (with a website), but the latter charge high-end premium, often starting RMB 3000 a night (but not an overnight). Prostitution, despite being illegal, and despite several nationwide crackdowns on human trafficking, is still rocking: China is a socialist, a developing nation with an average monthly basic salary between RMB 3500 to RMB 6000 (in Shanghai). The rich may be super-rich in China, but millions of poor migrants from the countryside are often recklessly exploited. Plenty end up in the sex industry.

In addition, Western sex-tourism in China is booming. The BBC in 2013 uncovered “organized prostitution” in “well-known, Western brand hotels.” And if this wasn’t enough adulterateness, the Chinese tradition of having concubines (today: mistresses) is in full revival mode: It has become a symbol of male status, virility, and financial power to maintain a qingren (lover) or a xiaosan, a “little third.” The mistress, often a clever entrepreneur, has many suitors and can easily demand an apartment, generous gifts, and opportunities for travel (with her sugar-daddy, or without), which often amounts to RMB 10.000 monthly maintenance fee.

Sex work has a bright future in China; at the top as well as the bottom of society: The most powerful men can easily afford several mistresses, depleting the pool for the other males. Worse, CNN reports that by 2020 China will have 30 million more men than women in the marriage market. And all those leftover men will have little choice but to pay a willing (professional) female and share.

Last picture, above: An apartment run as brothel in Dongguan, Guangdong, is raided by police forces.

Next picture, below: A female hotel guest in Changcha, Hunan, finds a ‘sex worker calling card’ under her door. Welcome to business as usual.