Fun's over: China's shared sex dolls yanked off market

BEIJING - China's rentable sex dolls have been yanked off the market and the firm responsible for them has apologised, just days after the "shared girlfriends" began strutting their silicon stuff.

Chinese sex-products retailer Touch said in a statement on Monday that it "will actively explore healthier and more harmonious ways to diversify people's sex lives".

The firm, which only launched the erotic service on Thursday on a trial basis, was fined by police and ordered to cease its promotional activities, the Beijing News reported.

Touch offered for rent life-sized sex dolls supposedly of Chinese, Russian, Korean and Hong Kong women, as well as an Amazon-like "Wonder Woman" with a sword and shield.

Like many of China's shared-economy products, the silicon seductresses could be reserved via a phone app for up to a week at a time.

Clients could even have their date "warmed up" before delivery and, for an extra fee, have them equipped with a device that made sounds when manhandled.

They were available for short-term companionship starting at 298 yuan (S$61) per night.

The company had said the "shared girlfriends" would help address the needs of the country's millions of men unable to find spouses because of a nationwide gender imbalance.

"We are sorry to announce that Touch will suspend the operation of the shared girlfriend project," the company, based in the southeastern city of Xiamen, said in a statement on Monday on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter.

"Our intention was for more people to experience erotic fun.

"But not long after the project went online it got attention from society and caused heated discussion. After we got a notice from relevant authorities, we actively co-operated with all investigations and accepted punishment.

"We express our deepest apology for the bad influence the shared girlfriend had on society, especially on the internet opinion of the key meeting."

The "key meeting" is a reference to the ruling Communist Party congress on October 18 in Beijing, a sensitive time in China.

The country has gone sharing-mad in recent months with bikes, umbrellas and basketballs all up for rent.