The police will set up a special task force to investigate and squelch the online promotion of prostitution, which has been expanding via social media in the Pearl River Delta cities of Guangdong province.
"After great efforts by law enforcement bodies to fight prostitution in local entertainment venues in past months, many organizers and operators now publish advertisements in QQ chat rooms, on WeChat, through mobile phone message texts and other instant messaging services," said Peng Hui, deputy director-general of the Guangdong Department of Public Security.
The new digital methods being used to lure customers in the prosperous province have "created many difficulties for the police", Peng said at a news conference in Guangzhou on Thursday. "Therefore, effective and concrete measures should soon be taken to fight this sort of crime."
Every city in the province also should set up a special online task force to expand both open and secret investigations of prostitution and gambling. In addition, the police should further expand their co-operation with banks, telecommunication companies, government departments or other organisations to take down the activities, which pose a threat to residents' normal lives, he said.
Peng said a special campaign, dubbed Net Oriole, was created last month to target gambling and the promotion of prostitution online. The 100-day campaign targets organizers and operators, gang heads and key gang members, bankers and anyone who profits from prostitution and gambling, he said.
Winter, including the traditional Chinese Lunar New Year holiday, is usually the peak period for online prostitution and gambling in Guangdong province, which borders Hong Kong and Macao special administrative regions, Peng said.
He urged residents to tip police to such illegal activities and promised to reward tipsters who provide information that enables police to crack down on such activities.
Chen Yingqi, a white-collar worker in Guangzhou, supported the police effort.
"The online prostitution advertisements have become rampant," Chen said.
In the first 11 months of this year, police across Guangdong detained 119,710 suspects and cracked 53,529 cases involving prostitution and gambling.
Shenzhen police detained 103 suspects after busting a gang that organised prostitution via the Internet in March. The suspects were from 28 provinces, municipalities and regions across the mainland. In Zhongshan city, 24 suspects were detained in a similar case in May, the police said.